A Line of Artisanal Caramel Products from California
Product Description: Small batch, hand crafted caramel products including caramel corn, caramel candies and caramel based sauces. Keen attention to ingredients. For instance they use organic yellow popcorn from the Sacramento area, and the almonds are sourced from a local grower.
We were sent the Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn, Bitter Sea Salt Caramels, Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce and Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce.
Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn: Brown Sugar, Butter, Organic Yellow Popcorn, Salt Roasted Cashew, Corn Syrup, Olive Oil, Rosemary Leaves, Kosher Salt, Baking Soda.
Bitter Sea Salt Caramels: Heavy Whipping Cream, Sugar, Butter, Corn Syrup, Salt.
Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce: Cream (milk, carrageenan), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Sea Salt, Infused Rosemary.
Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce: Cream (milk, carrageenan), Sugar, Cold Pressed Chicory Coffee, Corn Syrup, Sea Salt.
Test Kitchen Overview: A recent correspondence from CC Made informed us that corn syrup will be replaced with Tapioca Syrup in all of their products this fall. Products shipped after mid-September will have the Tapioca Syrup. The products we tested have the ingredient list as shown above.
We discovered these products at the Fancy Food Show in NYC and the first product we tried was the popcorn. Full disclosure. I cannot stand classically savory herbs in my sweets. For some reason I asked to taste the popcorn and my taste buds woke up, did a dance and said MORE. I had to taste again to make sure I actually liked it, because I didn’t believe it at first. On second taste I realized I loved the Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn. Caramel corn can be unbearably sweet, which is one reason the sweet/salty combo in our Bacon Caramel Popcorn works. This blend with the brown sugar based caramel and hint of rosemary was positively addictive. I had to keep sampling. This culinary attraction entered me into a dialogue with the owner, Cassandra Chen (the CC of the name), and learned that she was born in Shanghai, went to UC Davis and was in the world of finance and international relations when she was bit by the baking and sweets bug. She worked with chef Traci des Jardins at Jardinière in CA, met her wine sommelier husband and decided to take the leap into retail with the caramel corn she had been making for friends and family. Recipe testing ensued and here she was at the Fancy Food Show and I was eating most of her freebies. I reigned myself in and asked her to send me some samples to our Test Kitchen. I wanted to approach her goods again with a fresh palate. The Fancy Food Show is filled with large corporate booths and in-between there are the small producers like Cassandra who I love to find.
The products arrived and the second time around was a good as the first. She also sent the Bitter Sea Salt Caramels and they are a good, basic caramel. When I came to the two sauces – the Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce and the Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce once again I was truly wowed with the balance of sweet, savory and unexpected. The caramel sauce with the rosemary took the great qualities I had tasted and appreciated in the popcorn and brought them together in a satiny, buttery sauce, with just a bit of chew (just how I like my caramel). The chicory coffee blend was unique and that is saying something in the very crowded field of caramel sauce. If you have never had chicory it is kind of hard to explain. Chicory is a root harvested somewhat like sugar beets. The root is dried, roasted and ground and has often been used as a coffee substitute or used to blend with coffee. It is very popular in New Orleans. Some say its flavor softens coffee when blended together, others describe it as being chocolate-esque. I think it is unique and it has found a happy home in this caramel sauce. Some words to describe it from our tasters are “roasted root”, “nutty”, “chocolaty”, and “reminds me faintly of something maple”. Let’s just call it sophisticated and delicious. If you are a caramel sauce fan looking for something new, give this one a try.
Pros: Simple, elegant packaging. The small size of the popcorn provides some portion control (which we needed)! This entire line is a refined approach to caramel sauces and products and stands out in the field. The long thin shape of the caramels is a nice change from the more typical “nuggets” one finds. The sauces would be a most welcomed host/hostess gift and as they last long in the fridge, why not get some for yourself.
Cons: My only wish is that the caramels themselves had a bit more chew and resistance to the tooth. Also, the term “Bitter” in their title seems misleading. The do have a rich, deep burnt sugar flavor but the term bitter might dissuade some from sampling. They are a good, basic caramel.
Suggested Use: The caramel sauces are going to be high on my list for gift giving this holiday season. The popcorn is a great snack food – consider offering it at an adult Halloween party. We served it at a cocktail party and it disappeared fast.
Where to Buy: Consult the buying locator guide on ccmade.com
Price at Time of Review:
Rosemary & Cashew Caramel Corn: 8-ounce bags are $8; 3-ounce bags are $4.
Bitter Sea Salt Caramels: 2.5 ounce box is $7.
Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce: 11-ounce jar is $12; 4-ounce jar is $5.
Chicory Coffee Caramel Sauce: 11-ounce jar is $12; 4-ounce jar is $5.
Have you tried this product? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Bakepedia received this product as a gift for review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.