September 29, 2015

When It Comes to Caramels, No One Compares to Josh Early Candies

by Josh Early Candies

 

Our customers will be the first to tell you that there’s something special about Josh Early caramels, and we’ll be the first to tell you that it all starts with our time-test family recipes. We take pride in the fact that our caramels are cooked in small handmade batches that yield a flavor and texture that simply can’t be duplicated using mass production methods. In this blog post, we thought we’d show you what goes into making our Vanilla Caramels ($10.75), available in both Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate.


Every batch of caramels begins with the freshest ingredients of the highest quality. Because we don’t use processed and refined sugars, our caramels aren’t runny or overly sticky and they don’t have an overly-chewy texture that will leave your jaw sore after eating them.

First, we precisely weigh out the required amount of sugar in a large, generations-old copper kettle.


Then we carry the kettle over to the savage fire mixer (the same mixer used to cook caramels in the original Josh Early location in Reading, Pennsylvania!), where we’ll add the remaining raw ingredients, including brown sugar and cream. The ingredients are cooked down and will become the body of the caramels.


Next, we add fresh, Grade AA butter and cook the mixture to a rolling boil. Then we slowly dispense evaporated milk into the kettle and maintain a constant temperature throughout the remainder of the cooking process.

Keeping a precise temperature is absolutely critical, as the slow and gradual cook burns off excess moisture in the mixture and the remaining sugars are left to caramelize. Fittingly, caramelization gives the caramels their flavor, texture, and deep color profile.


This entire process can be shortened by using artificial flavors and sweeteners, but you compromise the range of flavors and the texture of the finished product by doing so. Instead, we cook the caramel for about an hour, until the caramel has all the characteristics that we’re looking for. We want to give the water enough time to cooking off, resulting in the ideal body and texture, and the sugars enough time to caramelize and combine with the butter and cream, resulting in a deep flavor and a rich, dark color.



While the caramel cooks, we arrange a metal frame on a long marble slab so we’ll be ready for the next step.


After the caramel has reached the end of the cooking process, we carefully remove the copper kettle from the savage fire mixer and walk it over to the waiting metal frame.




Then we pour the hot caramel onto the marble slab, spreading it out with a metal spatula to make sure it completely fills the frame.



After the caramel is poured onto the slab, we run a metal spatula around the frame to give the caramel a nice, clean edge. To allow enough time for the caramel to cool fully, we’ll leave it in the frame overnight.


After the caramel has set up, we score the caramel by hand to assist us in cutting the candy, also by hand, into individual pieces.




Each slab is expertly cut into blocks that are then placed on parchment-lined trays.


The blocks are moved, one by one, onto a wooden work surface covered with cornstarch to prevent the candy from sticking. Then, following the scored lines, we cut the blocks into long strips.



The strips are cut down even further into small, two-bite pieces.


Next, the pieces are transferred to another parchment-lined tray so they can be transferred over to the enrober where they caramels will be covered in either milk or dark chocolate.



Once the caramels have been placed neatly on the enrober, the candies move along the belt and onto an independently rotating metal grate. The special positioning of the grate allows the bottoms of the caramels to be coated with chocolate, creating something that we call “prebottoms”. This way there’s no need to turn the caramels over to ensure that they’re completely covered with chocolate.




From there, the caramels continue down the line and are fully enrobed with our perfectly tempered chocolate.


It’s the tempered chocolate that gives the caramels their nice shine.


After the caramels have been enrobed with chocolate, each piece is marked, by hand, with an “X” to put the finishing touch on these popular artisan candies.


It takes about twenty minutes for the caramels to travel from one end of the enrober to the other. When the chocolate coating of the caramels has set completely, the candies are removed from the enrober and packed into trays and boxes. This is the last step before the boxes of caramels are put out in the showroom for our customers to buy and bring home to enjoy.

In addition to our Vanilla Caramels, we also sell Chocolate Caramels, Vanilla Nut Caramels, and Sea Salt Caramels. All are made in a similar fashion and are available in both milk and dark chocolate.

Which variety of Josh Early Caramels is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!