Top Pick Of The Week

March 2, 2010

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Gourmet Caramel

A buttery Cinnamon Toast caramel, one of the dozen-plus melt-in-your-mouth flavors from Indulge Caramels. Photography by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: Handmade caramels.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Different flavors of fine artisan caramels made with top-quality ingredients.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The variety of flavors mean there’s always something different to indulge in.

Indulge Caramels: A Worthy Indulgence

CAPSULE REPORT: We taste plenty of caramels; fewer than a dozen brands have qualified as worth our attention. Indulge Caramels, an artisan endeavor in Portland, Oregon, has made a specialty of flavored caramels—currently eight varieties plus a chocolate-dipped caramel. They’re worth taking note of, and are so affordable that they can be enjoyed as a daily indulgence. They’re delicious with coffee or tea, and are a gluten-free food.

Making caramels that won’t crystallize requires practice. The recipe is deceptively simple when you look at the ingredients: just sugar, cream, butter and flavoring (vanilla, coffee, sea salt, etc.), along with corn syrup to prevent crystallization.

Follow this recipe and you get a soft, buttery, melt-in-your mouth caramel. Scrimp on the recipe—substitute margarine or oil for the butter, for example—and the product changes.

Mass marketed products only approximate what a real caramel is. Your eyes will widen when you see the ingredients lists of two top products in the full review.

They may also widen when you pop the first Indulge Caramel into your mouth. These small indulgences are so affordable that you can try all the different flavors.

Hand-making caramels is a labor of love. Try Indulge Caramels; you’ll appreciate the labor. Read the full review below to learn more about these buttery treats.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

More Top Pick Of The Week Confections

Caramel Apple Enstrom Toffee
DeBrito’s Outrageous Caramel Apples. Enjoy your caramel on a jumbo apple. These are the best we’ve had, with homemade caramel and great fruit. Read the review. Madison & Marcela Toffee. The three luxurious toffees are organic to boot! In different flavor combinations with almonds, peanuts or pecans, they stand out. Read the review. Enstrom’s Almond Toffee. Cook caramel ingredients at a higher temperature and you get toffee. Our favorite is made in a delicious sugar-free version, too. Read the review.

Indulge Caramels: A Worthy Indulgence


This is Page 1 of a two-page review. Click on the black links below to visit other pages:


Indulge Caramels Overview

Jennifer Bell graduated from college and started to make caramels. She didn’t think it would be her career: She was simply looking for personal, yet inexpensive way to give gifts to her family members. She found a caramel recipe and experimented until she liked the results.

Who would think that the growth of the artisan food movement—and the Portland, Oregon, food scene—would lead to a business as a confectioner! Yet soon, Jennifer began selling her caramels by the pound, and developed 10 flavors from the traditional (cashew, chocolate, sea salt, vanilla) to the new (cayenne, coconut, green apple).

The creativity never stops: Ms. Bell keeps inventing new flavors, and the availability changes frequently. As if things weren’t good enough, there are now chocolate-covered caramels.

A handmade caramel is a different experience from commercial varieties. Compare these ingredients:


Cayenne Caramel
Some like it hot—and we join them in appreciating these sweet and hot cayenne caramels. A habanero variety is also available. Photography by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

  • Indulge Caramels: sugar, cream, corn syrup, butter, concentrated whole milk, water. (The real deal.)
  • Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels: corn syrup, sugar, nonfat milk, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and/or soybean oil, whey, calcium carbonate, salt, artificial and natural flavors, lipolyzed butter fat, molasses, modified corn starch, cocoa, egg whites, soy protein, butter, maple syrup, Yellow #6, Yellow #5, Red #40, Blue #1, Red #3 and lecithin. (Looks like a science project, with five different colors to make the caramels look “natural.”)
  • Kraft Caramels: corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, whey, cream, salt, artificial flavor. (No butter, artificial flavor.)

Join us on the next page for an exploration of flavors from the “real deal”—and how caramel gets to be “caramel” (the color, the flavor and more).

—Karen Hochman


Continue To Page 2: Flavors Of Indulge Caramels

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