Monday, March 16, 2009

The Great Caramel Throw Down

I love caramel. But like chocolate (and men) caramel is all over the map. Some caramel is nice and chewy, some is almost like liquid, and some is that horrible wheat flour stuff in Goetze's caramel creams. GLACK!! Of course, the best caramel for you is the one you like the best. But I think you have to try a lot of caramels so you can figure out which one is really your favorite.

All these caramels taste so different I thought I should get a definition of caramel. From Wikipedia:

Caramel (pronounced /ˈkærəmɛl/ or /ˈkɑrməl/) refers to a range of confections that are beige to dark brown in color and derived from the caramelization of sugar. Caramel also refers to a soft, dense, chewy, caramel-flavored candy made by boiling milk, sugar, butter, vanilla essence, water, and glucose or corn syrup.

Yahoo! I'm all about milk, butter, and sugar - YAY! And all of the caramels we'll review here (except for one) are covered in chocolate. YUM!!!

In the last entry I told you how fabulous the caramels from The Chocolate Fetish were. Well, today we're going to look at their sea salt collection:

And because it's easier for me to compare and judge than just describe, we're also going to look at caramels from another Asheville chocolatier, French Broad chocolates:

We'll talk more about their other chocolates in an upcoming entry.

And since all the celebrities (including our new President) keep raving about Fran's chocolates, we'll take a look at them too:

Okay - first off, the diamond shaped thing is not a caramel - it's a hazelnut milk chocolate truffle. And it's very, very good - especially if you like hazelnut.

Okay - on to the caramel.

Let's compare all the dark chocolate sea salts and then the milk chocolate ones.

The winner is The Chocolate Fetish - their caramel is slightly softer than French Broad's and has a richer taste. There is also a better marriage between the chocolate and the caramel in the Fetish caramels. The French Broad chocolates use a local wildflower honey rather than corn syrup - I don't know if this accounts for the difference in taste and texture or not.

The Fetish caramel is so rich and chewy - it's just amazing.

Now what about the famous Fran's? Third place! Too salty - the salt completely overpowered the caramel. Now French Broad's caramels could actually have used a little MORE salt. It was too subtle there. Fetish was just right, Goldilocks.

Now here's the thing - if you only had Fran's you might think it was good. The combination of salt and caramel is a delicious one. But when you compare it to these other two - not so good! And Fran's is the most expensive, thank you very much. In this case, celebrity endorsement is worth more than quality.

Now what about the milk chocolate ones?

Fetish wins again! I just can't tell you all how amazing these caramels are. They have such a rich, deep taste. And look at all the different salts - they use SIX different salts from around the world. This really gives you an amazing taste experience. You would never think salts could taste so differently.

This time Fran's comes in second - I really liked the milk chocolate ones much better. The salt was less overwhelming than on the dark chocolate ones. But it was close, the French Broad caramels had a delicious finish. The chocolate was a bit smoother on the Fran's caramels.

So, when it comes to chocolate covered caramels, The Chocolate Fetish RULES!

All I want to do is get you to try something different. You may decide you'd rather have Kraft caramels any day, and that's great! But choose based on knowledge, not just because those are the caramels you've always eaten. And remember, this blog is about chocolate, but the message is bigger. Don't just do what you've always done or hang out with the same people you've always hung out with. Try new things! Meet new people! Your life is as big and as exciting as YOU make it. Everyday can be an adventure.

Even salt can be exciting!!


Carl Weaver said...

You blasphemer. Goetze's Caramel Creams are all about goodness and love and this is how you treat them?

I have not tried any high-end caramels yet but everyone raves about them. How about sending me some? Goodness knows it's hard on me when I have to actually spend money on candy!

Denise Ryan said...

You are in the ghetto of caramel - we need to get you out of there!! I'm going to have to do an intervention!!!

Heidi said...

I have two favorite caramels: the first is anything Cadbury.

The second is for sentimentality: Werthers. It was my Nanna's favorite candy. I visited her every six weeks during her last couple of years, when she was in her early 90s. Every time I came to see her, I brought her a couple of bags of these candies.
Now I never put one in my mouth -- or see one on a commercial -- without thinking of her and our special quiet times together. It was so great bonding with her.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane ... and by the way, I'm so jealous that you are eating so much chocolate while staying in Heidi Klum shape!

Denise Ryan said...

Heidi - I love you!!! Thanks for the compliment!! And I love the thought of you and your Nanna. I think candy has good memories for many of it - it's one of the things that makes it so great!!!

diane said...

Thank you for having such a big personality! We all love you for it and your perspective on things. just for that, I'm sending you another surprise ;)

Denise Ryan said...

Diane, you are the best!!! I should be the one sending YOU things for all your support!!