A New Salted Caramel

Le Caramel Salted Caramel CandiesI don’t keep my love of caramel secret. Do you?

Don’t answer that; I don’t want to even think about why you might not love caramel, too.

I can think of a reason not to like caramel: when it tastes simply of sugar with only small hints of butter and browned sugar. A good caramel, in my opinion, needs robust flavor. A distinctive, complex browned butter/sugar flavor, the essence of caramel. Often (again in my opinion; I have lots), American caramels are too sweet, too soft, too, well, boring.

So I was delighted at this winter’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, to discover Le Caramel, a small producer of French-style caramel products created by Christen and Vincent Kugener. They learned their craft in Normandy, a French region renowned for its butter, cream, milk, and salt hand-harvested from the local salt beds as it has been for centuries.

The Kugeners brought their passion and their traditional candy-making methods and equipment to San Diego to set up their business. They make all their products—in addition to salted and chocolate caramels are caramel cream, chocolate cream, and caramel syrup—with top-quality ingredients and a good pinch of sea salt to intensify the caramel flavor. They did, they told me at the show, adjust their recipe slightly for the American market which persists (obstinately in my opinion) in its preference for softer caramels. The texture of the Le Caramel salted caramels hits a fine balance of firm and yielding: they lie comfortably on the tongue, encouraging slow savoring. A 4-ounce box costs $4.99 and can be purchased through the Le Caramel website as well as at specialty shops and Whole Foods.


 

 
 

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