When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to eat were those little cubes of caramel. They were so sticky it was hard to unwrap them and so impossibly sweet that the flavor seemed to linger for days. My tastes have changed, but I still love caramels. These days, my favorites are the ones from Béquet, a company in Boseman, Mont. They were recommended to me by Darrell Corti, the legendary Sacramento specialty foods grocer. When we went out to lunch recently, he stuck a handful in his pocket to take along for dessert.
And, of course, Darrell was right — as he almost always is. The dominant flavor of these caramels is not simply sweet, but that distinctive mixture of sweet and rich and just a little bitter from the caramelized sugar. They’re not at all sticky, but have a pleasantly chewy texture that gradually melts in your mouth.
According to their website, the company is run by Robin Béquet, who turned to caramels after the technology crash of 2001. They come in six flavors. I have tasted three of them and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. How can you go wrong with the Celtic sea salt? The maple has a wonderful perfume of syrup. And the chipotle has a surprising chile finish.
Béquet’s caramels are available locally at many Whole Foods stores. With this kind of candy, freshness is important, so you might ask how long they’ve been stocked. To be certain, you can order from the company’s website, or call Corti Bros. in Sacramento.
Béquet’s caramels, $6.95 for 4 ounces, plus shipping; from Whole Foods, the company website, or call Corti Bros. at (800) 509-3663.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo by Russ Parsons