Don’t you, like the Accidental Locavore, generally think of comfort food as being savory? Mac and cheese, pot pies and meatloaf are some of the usual suspects, but a case can also be made for sweet comfort foods—caramels for example.
The biggest treat for us as kids was at Christmas when a box of my grandmother’s caramels would make its annual appearance. It was strictly forbidden to open it before Christmas and even then they were carefully doled out one at a time. Soft and buttery, they were simple and delicious.
I was reminded of them recently when I met Michèle from la Petite Occasion at a networking event put on by the Specialty Food Association. She slipped me a bag of her caramels, an assortment of vanilla, bacon bourbon, salted dark chocolate and chocolate Grand Marnier. They were all fabulous! The vanilla immediately took me back to my grandmother’s, with the same soft, buttery goodness. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the bacon ones, but the bacon adds more of a textural interest to the caramels, with a hint of smokiness from it and the bourbon. Thankfully, it’s not intent on making a big “look at me I’m bacon” statement and ditto for the bourbon.
Thanks to Michèle, I now have a much bigger appreciation for chocolate caramels. Her salted dark chocolate ones were my second favorite after the vanilla. Again, a hint of salt played well with the deep chocolate taste and since you have three of what I consider the basic food groups—chocolate, butter and salt, what’s not to like? The chocolate Grand Marnier caramels had the orange flavor of Grand Marnier, but again, without a big boozy flavor.
Besides the caramels, there is also a dark chocolate toffee which looks amazing. She’s selling to some retailers in the Westchester area, or you can do what I did and order directly from the website.