18 Undiscovered Caramels You Need To Try

If you ❤ caramels this is for you…

Goat Milk Caramels // Fox Point Farm // Kellyton, Alabama

Fox Point Farm’s founders — plus five kids, three dogs, and four goats — started this 40-acre farm only a few years ago; already they manage a herd in the hundreds. And that means a lot of milk. Good thing we have a sweet tooth. These chews are as easy to love as the corner-store penny candy you remember, but with a soft, creamy finish (thank the goats) that means you can indulge without busting a jaw or worrying about the provenance of chemical dyes and artificial sweeteners. Dig in — this handful’s on the house.

Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn // Liddabit Sweets // Brooklyn, NY

In baseball, tradition rules, and most are sacred — the pinstripes, the anthem, the seventh-inning stretch. And yet how cracker jacks became the timeless stadium candy they are today, we’ll never know — is it their stale, molar-sticking bite or the useless “toy” stuffed in every box? Let’s upgrade. Started at the Brooklyn Flea by two culinary school buddies, Liddabit is now anything but little: a confectionary powerhouse of candies, caramels, even a cookbook. Who better to breathe new life into that tired snack? Their version covers all the bases: salty, sweet, boozy, bacon-y, it’s barbecue in a box, no toy needed.

Bodacious Bacon Beer Brittle // Stacey’s Sweet Spot // Moneta, VA
Her bona fides are fine and French — a professional chocolatier degree from the Ecolé Chocolat — but Stacey’s brittle is anything but. Fine Dominican cocoa nibs take a down-home southern turn with smoky local bacon, crunchy North Carolina pecans, hot habaneros, and a splash of roasty porter from the Sweet Spot’s neighbors at Parkway Brewing. For the lazy pitmaster’s dessert: An entire grilled-up meal, meat-to-nuts, covered in chocolate.

Beer Caramel Pretzel Nuggets // Roni-Sue’s // New York, NY
Another classic bar side bite, long gone stale: stripped of their brawny Bavarian glory, most bar pretzels are banished to dusty snack bowls, pawed through by dozens of drunken hands. Good riddance. Leave those for the unenlightened and get hip to Roni-Sue’s redux, a collaboration with her neighbors at the Brooklyn Brewery: sweet, salty, crunchy pretzel nibbles infused with, what else? Beer.

Black Licorice Toffee // Laurie & Sons // Harlem, NY
Surviving a shut-in requires more than just sustenance — let’s treat ourselves for braving the wild indoors. But save the chalky chocolate bars for campfire s’mores once the snow thaws. If we didn’t have you sold at chocolate toffee, read on, choosy beggar: black licorice, fresh ground star anise, Hawaiian lava salt and — not satisfied yet? — a dash of Pernod. Shackleton would cross an iceberg for this one; lucky you, you’ve got a whole bag. For now.

Espresso Cocomels // JJ’s Sweets // Boulder, CO

Candy. CANDY. Yes, fine — go nuts, kid. But let’s trojan horse this a bit. Here we have a delicious chocolate caramel, and if that’s all you need, then stop reading right here, and bliss out in coco-land. But inside that chocolate coating, a good-for-you surprise. In case the locavore gym-rat on your other shoulder pipes up, dig this: These aren’t corn-syrup-ed Wonka bars. Cocomels are all natural, made with sustainably sourced, non-GMO cocoa and smooth vegan coconut milk. Candy even a mother could love.

Smoke & Stout Caramel Bar // Vosges // Chicago

Inspired by founder Katrina Markoff’s mix of traditional training (she’s a Le Cordon Bleu alum) and avant garde inspiration (she worked a stint at El Bulli), Vosges is as far from Hershey bars — in both directions — as it seems possible to get. Think Willy Wonka in a Saville Row suit: the Chicago-based chocolate factory makes everything from über-classic truffles to a whole shelf’s worth of bacon-infused bars to this particularly hybridized creation, a blend of Rogue Brewery’s chocolate stout, rich dark chocolate, and alderwood-smoked sea salt.

Salty Mango Lassi Taffy // Salty Road // Brooklyn, NY
Our first taste of street food is, in some ways, its psychedelic, carnivalesque epitome: summertime delights on boardwalks and county fairs, technicolor sno-cones, ephemeral candy floss, and the king of it all, saltwater taffy. But today’s reality is a far cry from that sunny childhood dream — most modern taffy doesn’t even use sea salt! Not so, Salty Road. These hand-stretched morsels, made first for a friend’s beachside stand on the Rockaways and now available to you, use all natural ingredients, from real vanilla beans down to the large-grain sea salt. Bonus: this particular batch was inspired by another street eat, the Punjabi summertime (hell, anytime) yogurt mango shake.

“Old Fashioned” Cocktail Caramels // Shotwell Candy Co. // Memphis, TN

Named after the company founder’s great-grandpa Shot, who kept his general store’s candy barrels brimming with caramels for sugar-toothed local kids, and perfected after months of simmering and stirring dozens of test batches in tarnished brass pots, these caramels are old fashioned indeed — right down to their grown-up cocktail-inspired infusion of bitters, orange peel, and booze.

Dutch Stroopwafel // Rip Van Wafels // San Francisco, CA

Update your coffee break from a paper-cup-and-pastry affair to the stately Dutch koffietijd, a mid-day ritual of patience, pleasure, and oh yeah — a gooey caramel filling. Balance this rich, buttery waffle on the rim of your mug and let the steam slowly melt its syrupy core as you gaze over the rippling Herengracht canal, or the latest cat video making the office rounds. Go Dutch, but don’t share a bite.

Liddabit Sweet // Sea Salt Caramels // Brooklyn, NY

In a little nook in Brooklyn, a hustlin’ team are measuring, cooking, dipping, and wrapping at one of the coolest treat shops in America. Churning out everything from chewy candy bars that would have you snickering at a snickers to lollipops hand poured on bamboo sticks (which means no little sludgy bits of paper in your mouth). For these flavor hits, pure ocean sea salt is stirred into buttery caramel made with locally sourced Ronnybrook Dairy Cream.

Bacon Sundae

Vosges Haut Chocolate // Mo’s Uncured Bacon Caramel Toffee // Chicago, IL

Ask any top pastry chef in the country what the secret to elevating good chocolate is and they’ll most likely say salt. Which explains why Katrina Markoff isn’t just another hack pandering to the bacon craze sweeping the country after all. The graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris offers refuge from gutless chocolate to craft what can described as a baconized Skor bar, melty, crunchy, salty, meaty. The only thing that rivals devouring this bar straight up is crumbling it over ice cream with red head peanut brittle and crispy Broadbent’s to complete a Sundae fit for bacon folklore.

Liddabit Sweet // Beer & Pretzel Caramels // Brooklyn, NY

In a little nook in Brooklyn, a hustlin’ team of just five are measuring, cooking, dipping, and wrapping at one of the coolest treat shops in America. Knocking out everything from chewy candy bars that would have you snickering at a snickers to lollipops hand poured on bamboo sticks (which means no little sludgy bits of paper in your mouth). For these flavor hits, Brooklyn Brewery Ale is stirred into buttery caramel made with locally sourced Ronnybrook Dairy Cream. The final touch is chunks of salty Martin’s Pretzels, hand twisted and stone-hearth baked in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country.

Salted Bourbon Goat’s Milk Caramel // Fat Toad Farm // Brookfield, Vermont

We are hard-pressed to find a product teeming with more passion, dedication and commitment than what’s captured in each jar of Fat Toad Farm “Cajeta”. There’s “Artisan” and then there’s raising your own goats in central Vermont, milking them, then standing over copper pots for hours on end reducing down the milk until the sugars naturally caramelize to produce this mexican answer to dulce de leche. Add a little Bourbon and Sea Salt for good measure and this tangy grassy caramel is on the cutting edge of what we’re coining as the “teat to table” movement.

Ovenly Bacon Caramel Corn // Brooklyn, NY

Smoky bacon from the pasture-raised hogs of award-winning Benton’s Country Hams is tossed with organic popcorn and smothered in a Brooklyn Brewery Pennant Ale caramel. The greatest thing in caramel corn since the worst thing, Cracker Jack last year debuting their caffeinated popcorn aptly named “Cracker Jack’d”.

Birch Syrup, Applewood Bacon & Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt Sundae

Birch Syrup Caramel // Kahiltna Birchworks // Palmer, Alaska

In some Birch Syrup equivalent of Hall and Oates the duo Dulce and Michael East have been cranking out smooth, silky goodness for over 23 years. This stuff is rare. Of the 3000 gallons of syrup being slanged worldwide, Kahiltna Birchworks accounts for half. This is probably because trees have to be hand-tapped in the freezing wilderness and it takes 100 gallons of evaporated sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. Spoon some warm over coffee ice cream with a sprinkle of Alderwood salt and you too will be makin’ dreams come true.

*****Bonus***** Not Caramel, But Just Dang Good…

Cactus Candy // Cactus Candy Company // Phoenix, AZ
Well-regarded as slakers of thirst, stretchers of mind, and stickers of privates, the desert cactus has another trick in its holster: the less-known prickly pear fruit, which, like a quince or sour orange, seems only to shine in sugared-up jellies and sweets like these candy cubes. A Phoenix tradition since 1942, these sugarbomb nuggets are stuffed full of real cactus fruit juice — and, unfortunately for the sweeter-toothed among us, a hell of a lot easier to eat.

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