Candy Girls: Indulge Gourmet Soft Caramels

This is serious caramel.  If all you've ever known is Caramello and Brachs, then Indulge Caramels will blow your mind.  It's only related to that store-bought stuff in the most broad connection of similar ingredients.  But this fresh, melt-in-your-mouth candy is both easy on your teeth and not achingly sweet.

According to the website, founder Jennifer Bell started making the caramels after she graduated college as a way to give something back to her family and friends who had supported and encouraged her.  She quickly discovered her caramels inspired a fierce loyalty, and their fan base grew.  Recognizing an opportunity when she saw it, Bell turned her passion into profit, though the candy making is still relegated to evenings and weekends while she works a day job.  "Running your own business is a lot of fun and very rewarding," she says, "but keeping it all together is a challenge. You have to wear a lot of different hats all at once."

We received a sampling of five different flavors of Indulge and had to spread out the testing over a period of several days.  The caramels aren't stamped "indulge" without reason.

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The Original caramel is the base for all the flavors; it's buttery and smooth, releasing slight salt undertones as it melts on your tongue.  Bell worked the salt notes to the caramel's advantage in the Sea Salt flavor, in which small flakes of salt intermingle with the sweet.  This flavor, she says, is a personal and fan favorite.  "It took forever to find just the right salt for it, so I am glad that everyone else likes it!"

Cinnamon Toast, with hints of the aromatic spice, also works particularly well.  Mixed with the browned sugar flavor of the caramel, it does invoke a cinnamon toast sensory memory.  Cayenne is deceiving.  It takes a minute for the heat to hit your tongue, and then it catches the back of your throat as you're swallowing. The sweet heat is a nice combo, but watch for an accompanying cough, especially for the uninitiated.

Coconut is the only flavor we weren't head-over-heels for. While we appreciated the tropical joining of the fruit and caramel taste-wise, the chewy specks of coconut were an unwelcome textural interruption to the otherwise silky melting of the candy.

While only locally available in stores in Washington and Oregon, you can order Indulge Soft Caramels online, where you have full access to an array of different flavors (Ginger! Apple!) for $6.25 per four ounce bag.

Would we finish the bag?  Yes, and more.

Would we purchase again?  Yes, this is an excellent stateside source for European-like caramels.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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