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McCrea’s Candies: Sophisticated Flavors from Simple Ingredients

By Lorrie Baumann

McCrea’s Candies is a small New England candy maker with a product line exclusively composed of high-quality caramels elegantly packaged for gift-giving. Founded almost five years ago by husband-and-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea, McCrea’s Candies are made without corn syrup or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“Our flavors are done just like you’d do it in your own kitchen,” Jason says. “For ginger, we juice the root and add the juice to our candy. For our Single-malt Scotch flavor, we use real single-malt Scotch and pour that right into the batch.”

The McCreas were research biologists before they decided to start their candy company, and they use that scientific bent as they develop new flavors of their caramels today. “Understanding food chemistry helps enhance the flavors, and I use chemistry to understand how flavors come together and how to make nice balances. That’s really what we do,” says Jason. The McCreas currently offer 14 flavors, including Irish Coffee, Cafe Noir, Dark Roasted Mocha, Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Highland Scotch and Tapped Maple.

McCrea’s Candies are now elegantly packaged for the gift trade after the McCreas learned from their customers that they loved the candies so much that they wanted to share them with their friends, so they were buying them as housewarming and hostess gifts, to send to children away at college or to present to dads on Fathers Day. “We do a lot of farmer’s markets around here, and customers would tell us,” Jason says. “They’d say, ‘I bought three sleeves and we ate them all, but I’d meant to give them to my son when he comes home from school, so now I need more.’ There’s no substitute for being out and talking to customers and listening to them telling you what they want. They’ll tell you the truth; ‘I like this; I don’t like that.’”

“We thought that was very interesting,” he continues. “We never had been going to gift shows – we had been going to food shows, but we decided to listen to our consumers and what they want to have and how we can accommodate them.”

As a result of those conversations the McCrea’s recently redesigned their packaging to focus less on the candy’s all-natural simplicity and more on its sophisticated flavors and high quality – without changing the recipes for the candy inside the packages. The product line’s packaging now includes two sizes of cylindrical sleeves plus a new-to-the line pillow box and a large party box that’s popular with customers who take them to dinner parties instead of a bottle of wine or present them as corporate gifts.

The Mill Fudge Factory Offers Mouth-Watering Gifts for 2015 Holiday Season

In time for the 2015 holiday season, the family-owned and operated Mill Fudge Factory & Ice Cream Café is now offering its delectable line of hand-crafted fudge nationally through its online shop at the millfudgefactory.com. The Bristol, New Hampshire-based small business, founded by the Munro family in 2006, uses the family’s secret Scottish recipe and 100 percent natural ingredients to create authentic fudge unlike any that can be found on this side of the Atlantic.

The Mill Fudge Factory fudge is available in an assortment of classic and inventive flavors, including Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Walnut, Natural Peanut Butter, Scottish Whiskey, Pure New Hampshire Maple, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Pumpkin Pie and much more. The Factory also offers an assortment of decadent truffles and toffee. All confections are available in gift baskets and elegant sampler boxes.

“We take pride in creating fudge true to the recipe of my grandfather in Scotland and we do it right here in New England,” said Mill Fudge Factory Co-Owner and General Manager Noah Munro. “People tell us they can taste the care we put into our fudge. We’re so happy that we can now share it with folks across the U.S. Our fudge makes for a unique Halloween treat, a great addition to the Thanksgiving table and a fabulous Christmas or Hanukkah gift.”

Snack Food Makers Turn to Clean Ingredients, Adventurous Flavors

 

By Lorrie Baumann

The global market for snack foods is now worth about $36 billion according to market research firm IBISWorld, which also reports that the industry is benefiting from the introduction of more healthy snacks and favorable product pricing. Over the next five years, the snack food industry is predicted to continue growing as the economy strengthens and people have more disposable income to spend, leading them to trade in their junk food for premium snack foods that meet their criteria for the flavorful foods with simpler ingredients labels that they’re seeking out for their meals.

There’s a lot of talk about a cleaner label. We’ve been seeing a lot more requests, and customers are coming up with their own lists of what they don’t want to see,” says AnnMarie Kraszewski, a food scientist at Wixon, which makes foods and flavorings used as ingredients by a wide range of product manufacturers. The companies with which Wixon works are asking for recipes that avoid anything artificial, anything that sounds more like it came from a chemistry laboratory rather than a pantry, she said. “It makes formulating a little more difficult, but in terms of the end product, it comes out rather nice, and the consumer likes to see the label, and so they feel better about the product…. Usually the customer tells us a profile they’re looking for. You try and make something that tastes fresh, whether that’s with herbs, unique chile peppers, things that make it a little more interesting. The bulk of the profiles that come in are savory, but there’s a lot of interest in sweet-heat or sweet-savory – a combination like maple and thyme, for instance.”

Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee

Laurie & Sons is a start-up company that’s making its Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee in La Marqueta, an East Harlem commercial kitchen incubator sponsored by New York City. The product received the 2015 sofi Award for Outstanding Chocolate, and it’s the first chocolate-enrobed crisp licorice toffee confection using real licorice root, according to Founder and Owner Laurie Pauker. The product is on the sweet side of the snack food continuum, and Pauker intends to keep her company’s product line of toffees and brittles firmly targeted at that category rather than among the gourmet gifts because Pauker and her three sons, who are the company’s chief product testers, believe that the era of calorie-dense, nutrition deficient snacks has passed. “It might be sweet snacks or might be savory snacks, but it’s all things made with good ingredients. The predecessors are no longer acceptable,” she said. “I think we’re moving more in that direction anyhow. People are snacking more than ever, and those foods need to be made better. They need to meet higher standards.”

The product line includes a couple of flavors of brittles that are baked rather than kettled: Toasted Almond Brittle and Mayan Spice Brittle. “It lets us make the product in a way that incorporates brown rice flour instead of some of the sugar. It’s incredibly light. It’s lower calories, but you feel like you’ve had something tasty and satisfying,” she said. “Portion control is easy because the pieces are sized to let you know what you’re eating, and they’re packaged in resealable pouches so you can take them with you.”

The candy that excited the sofi Award judges was inspired by a candy that Pauker’s grandfather used to give her when she was a little girl. “It was fantastic and it was chewy,” Pauker says today. “One of the things we’ve focused on is putting flavor in toffee. It’s a great vehicle for flavor and spice.” The Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee is gluten free and flavored with bold black licorice underlined with freshly ground star anise and a little bit of pernod, a combination that lends depth to the flavor of the toffee. It’s made without corn syrup, preservatives or food coloring. The chocolate coating amplifies the licorice flavor, and each piece is topped with black Hawaiian lava salt to add crunch as well as flavor. “That took several months of experimenting to balance the right ratio of black licorice to star anise, but I think we found the right balance,” Pauker says. “As for the ‘dangerous’ part of the name, it’s dangerous because it’s so good and also because black licorice should not be eaten in great quantities. It’s like absinthe in that way. It has a little bit of a dangerous side to it.”

fusion JERKY

On the savory side of snacking, KaiYen Mai set out last year to make meat jerky that had the soft texture of the products made in her family’s company for the past 50 years but with modern flavors and ingredient labels that were cleaner than those of many of the jerky products already on the market. Her family had been making jerky in the United States for 35 years and in Taiwan before that, and when it came time for her to take over the family business, she decided to venture out with a new brand as well as keeping the family’s existing product lines on the market. Thus, fusion JERKY, which offers all natural, minimally processed beef, pork, turkey and chicken jerky in bold flavor profiles and with a soft texture that appeals to women and children as well as men, came to be. Basil Citrus Artisan Beef Jerky, Chipotle Lime Artisan Beef Jerky, Garlic Jalapeno Artisan Pork Jerky, Island Teriyaki Artisan Pork Jerky, Chili Basil Artisan Turkey Jerky, Rosemary Citrus Artisan Turkey Jerky, Lemon Pepper Artisan Chicken Jerky and Basil Citrus Artisan Chicken Jerky are offered in 3-ounce bags that sell for $6 to $7. They are made without preservatives or MSG and are gluten free. “It’s a clean label, so when you read the ingredients, you can actually read and understand it,” Mai said. There is currently not an organic product in the line because using all organic ingredients would make the product price-prohibitive in its market, she added. “We’re one of the first ones to do a natural chicken jerky. A lot of people are surprised by chicken jerky. A lot of people who don’t want to eat red meat turn to white meat, so this is another choice for them,” she said. “We’re also trying to make it affordable, which is why we’re not making an organic product at this time. I’d have to reduce the size and sell them for a much higher price. I just don’t think that’s affordable and reasonable for the average consumer.”

The Better Chip

The makers of The Better Chip are among those consciously defining their product line as lifestyle-focused alternative snacks for consumers who are looking for cleaner labels as well as exciting flavors. Ingredients for The Better Chip products, including whole grains and vegetables, are sourced straight from farms. All ingredients are gluten free and non-GMO, and they contain no trans fats. The company adds no topical flavor enhancers, so the flavors are inside the chips rather than coming off on fingers, says Andrea Brule, Vice President/General Manager. “We take a hard line on that. They’re not flavored like something, they just are.”

The Better Chip was designed to be merchandised in the deli department rather than on the chip aisle, so that they share that space with the items with which they’re usually served as part of a meal or at a party. The company very definitely had in mind that they wanted to make a chip that consumers would feel good about photographing and sharing on their social media. “When we developed the chip, we decided to source fresh ingredients and use that as a basis for a snack line that would meet those criteria for clean ingredients and healthy foods while at the same time using engaging flavors that are bragworthy, shareworthy. So when consumers put them on the table with hummus and yogurt dip and cured meats, our chips, in the variety of flavors they come in, are the canvas for how they want to express themselves,” Brule says. “They’re developed for today’s consumers with simple ingredients sourced straight from farms, ideal for entertaining and experimenting with…. My happiest days are when I see people engaging with the product in creative ways. The flavors and the colors really lend themselves to people looking for what they can create with it.”

This story was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

 

Bissinger’s Chief Chocolatier, Dave Owens

“Going to work every day is an honor,” says Vice President of Taste and Chief Chocolatier at Bissinger’s, Dave Owens. “The opportunity to build upon 350 years of tradition provides a wonderful incentive as I approach each day and every piece of chocolate crafted at Bissinger’s.”

Bissinger’s has been crafting confections since the time of Louis XIV, when he declared the company “Confiseur Imperial” or Confectioner to the Royal Empire, in 17th Century France. No other chocolate company, let alone company known to Bissinger’s, has such a long-standing legacy. Commitment to crafting premium, indulgent and beautiful confections is always the task at hand. This tradition has been the same for three and one half centuries.

Owens brings an extraordinary range of talent and depth to the company, including executive chef and partner at award-winning restaurants. He has a deep respect for the integrity and proper sourcing of ingredients, an exceptional culinary sense and a praiseworthy passion for natural foods and sustainability. Confectionery innovations have won Bissinger’s sofi Awards from the Specialty Food Association. The categories were best chocolate and best confection.

In his free time, Owens has two children and a wife who is also in the food industry, employed as a food stylist. Owens also enjoys helping philanthropic organizations like the March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, St. Louis Area FoodBank and has contributed to Taste of the NFL and Taste of the Nation.

At work, Owens is passionate with the company’s involvement with the Rainforest Alliance. Because not all cocoa is responsibly farmed, Bissinger’s works with them to ensure its superior cocoa beans are grown on farms in the Cote d’Ivoire esteemed for exceptional taste. The Rainforest Alliance promotes environmental responsibility, social equity and economic viability for farming communities. For more than 25 years, it has been working to conserve biodiversity and ensure livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.

Owens say it is deeply rewarding on both a professional and personal level to be a part of a company that shares his values to in sourcing premium ingredients that not only make for an indulgent and delicious taste, but also are good for our people and the planet. “Our mission is not to be the biggest, but the finest chocolatier,” said Owens. “The word ‘finest’ doesn’t just refer to the quality of the chocolate. It also encapsulates working for a company that has a social and environmental consciousness.”

McCrea’s Candies: Sophisticated Flavors from Simple Ingredients

 

By Lorrie Baumann

McCrea’s Candies is a small New England candy maker with a product line exclusively composed of high-quality caramels elegantly packaged for gift-giving. Founded almost five years ago by husband-and-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea, McCrea’s Candies are made without corn syrup or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“Lour flavors are done just like you’d do it in your own kitchen,” Jason says. “For ginger, we juice the root and add the juice to our candy. For our Single-malt Scotch flavor, we use real single-malt Scotch and pour that right into the batch.”

The McCreas were research biologists before they decided to start their candy company, and they use that scientific bent as they develop new flavors of their caramels today. “Understanding food chemistry helps enhance the flavors, and I use chemistry to understand how flavors come together and how to make nice balances. That’s really what we do,” says Jason. The McCreas currently offer 14 flavors, including Irish Coffee, Cafe Noir, Dark Roasted Mocha, Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Highland Scotch and Tapped Maple.

McCrea's candies imageMcCrea’s Candies are now elegantly packaged for the gift trade after the McCreas learned from their customers that they loved the candies so much that they wanted to share them with their friends, so they were buying them as housewarming and hostess gifts, to send to children away at college or to present to dads on Fathers Day. “We do a lot of farmer’s markets around here, and customers would tell us,” Jason says. “They’d say, ‘I bought three sleeves and we ate them all, but I’d meant to give them to my son when he comes home from school, so now I need more.’ There’s no substitute for being out and talking to customers and listening to them telling you what they want. They’ll tell you the truth; ‘I like this; I don’t like that.’”

“We thought that was very interesting,” he continues. “We never had been going to gift shows – we had been going to food shows, but we decided to listen to our consumers and what they want to have and how we can accommodate them.”

As a result of those conversations the McCrea’s recently redesigned their packaging to focus less on the candy’s all-natural simplicity and more on its sophisticated flavors and high quality – without changing the recipes for the candy inside the packages. The product line’s packaging now includes two sizes of cylindrical sleeves plus a new-to-the line pillow box and a large party box that’s popular with customers who take them to dinner parties instead of a bottle of wine or present them as corporate gifts.

 

For more information, visit www.mccreascandies.com or visit the company this year at AmericasMart.

 

Abdallah Candies Introduces 12 New Truffle Flavors

 

Abdallah Candies is introducing 12 new flavors to its truffle flavor lineup that are both trendy and traditional.

In operation for 106 years, Abdallah Candies is already known for the quality in its original 12 flavor truffle line, and adds to it with options like Margarita, Malted Milkshake and Strawberry Cheesecake.

Rounding out the new line of flavors are Tiramisu, Hazelnut, Key Lime, Latte, Butter Pecan, Caramel, Anchochile, Sweet Tea and Rum. Any truffle connoisseur will be hard pressed to find a flavor that they would refuse.

Like the traditional line of truffles, all are made with heavy whipping cream, butter and the finest chocolate for their ganache centers. The new flavors will attract newcomers as well as established foodies.

Each truffle comes in two sizes. The miniature truffle weighs in at 11 grams, while the traditional truffle is 24 grams.

Along with the expansion in the truffle line, Abdallah Candies continues to create its wide assortment of prepackaged products that are excellent impulse buys. With more than 250 bulk candies to choose from, ranging from the 12 different flavors of caramels, traditional candies like raspberry creams and amazing toffees, if you can think of it, Abdallah Candies can make it.

This includes specialties such as Abdallah Candies’ cashew grizzlies which are made with cashews, caramel and chocolate, and the sea salt almond alligator, a scrumptious candy made with rich sea salt and almonds for a salty sweet crunch sensation.

Based in Minnesota and making candy since 1909, Abdallah Candies knows how to make a product that inspires nostalgia from its customers.

“We are truly an American success story,” said MaDonna Schmitz, National Sales Manager, Abdallah Candies. “People want to tell stories of memories of buying our candies when they were children and how much it meant for them.”

 

John Kelly Chocolates to Unveil New Chocolate Bar Line at SFFS

John Kelly Chocolates, known for its award-winning truffle fudge, walnut caramel clusters and other handcrafted chocolate delights, has substantially expanded its product offering by introducing a line of solid chocolate bars, in six different flavors, at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The line serves as a complement to John Kelly’s existing products, and will appeal to customers who enjoy solid chocolate in addition to its signature creamy, unique gourmet chocolate fudge.

John Kelly Solid Choc Bars 3inThe line of solid chocolate bars features four flavors in dark chocolate (73 percent cacao) and two flavors in milk chocolate (41 percent cacao), some with nuts, many with exotic salts.

Each flavor is a proprietary recipe developed by the company in-house. The bars will be offered for sale at John Kelly stores and online, as well as offered as a wholesale item for its extensive list of customers nationwide.

The bars are packaged individually in a highly designed premium box, sealed in gold foil. Each bar is also custom molded with an intricately branded design in the chocolate, marking the bar as undeniably a John Kelly creation. For wholesale customers, the bars will ship 12 to a case, in a self-contained point of purchase box ready to be placed on-shelf.

Apart from packaging and presentation, the bars themselves are in keeping with John Kelly’s driving mission to create the most delicious-tasting chocolate that adheres to the highest quality standards. Each flavor has been carefully balanced with notes that complement each other and the underlying chocolate. And each bar is gluten free, soy free, non-GMO and all natural. The bars also contain fair trade ingredients.

The product line is the result of years of tinkering, and should satisfy pent-up demand. As co-owner John Kelson states, “Many of our customers have been asking us to create a solid chocolate bar line, but we wanted to do it our way and ensure it would be simply the best on the market. That’s what our customers expect, and that’s what we feel we have achieved.”

 

Chocolate That’s Good for Your Health

LAvle USA 1Lavle, from The Good Chocolate Company, is the only finished chocolate or cocoa product on the market that gives consumers their daily 200 mg of cocoa flavanols in a single 10 g portion. It sources only the highest flavanol-percentage cocoa bean varieties. But more importantly, its mild post-harvest treatments preserve the beans’ naturally present health components.

Rich and velvety, with a deep, roasted cocoa flavor rounded out by a subtle sweetness, Lavle preserves both what’s indulgent and truly “good” about chocolate in a bite-size portion.

The bag retails for $12.99 for 5.25 ounces (150 g).

The product is currently only available on the East Coast and will be making its debut on the American market at the Natural Products Expo East, September 17-19 in Baltimore, Maryland.

For orders and additional information, email Good Chocolate Imports at Info@goodchocolateimports.com  or call 954.357.2509.


Salazon Chocolate Co. Launches Outdoor Adventure Chocolate Bar Series

Salazon Chocolate Co., a premium chocolate maker known as the first company to craft salted chocolate, is launching a line of premium salted chocolate bars to demonstrate its dedication to outdoor adventure. The TRAIL SERIES features three dark salted chocolate bars, including:

  • 57% Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Caramel – Certified Organic and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa beans
  • 57% Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Coffee – Certified Organic and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa beans
  • 72% Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Almond – made with Certified Organic chocolate and Fair Trade Certified cocoa beans

Salazon has garnered a reputation for crafting delicious, premium salted chocolate in unique flavor combinations. Founded by Pete Truby, an avid outdoorsman and trail enthusiast, the company’s commitment to the U.S. national scenic trails can be traced back to the origin of the company. According to Truby, inspiration for an energy-rich salted chocolate bar came to him in 2009 during a backpacking trip in Utah.

“The Appalachian Trail, our country’s oldest and original protected trail, is right in our back yard and we frequently find ourselves on the trail in our spare time,” said Pete Truby. “The ability to get out and hike for a day, a week, or even go for a life changing six-month hike is the magic of the national scenic trails. We wanted to make a line of chocolate specifically honoring our amazing national trails.”

Salazon is partnering with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for its Caramel bar, the Pacific Crest Trail Association for its Coffee bar, and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition for its Almond bar. The packaging for each bar depicts actual scenery captured on the trails.

A portion of the gross proceeds from the Trail Series funds the efforts of these nonprofits to protect, preserve, and promote the country’s national scenic trails, one being the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

“The Pacific Crest Trail Association is very appreciative of Salazon Chocolate Company’s support in our work to promote the Pacific Crest Trail,” says Angie Williamson, Development Director for the association. “Their support helps us coordinate hundreds of volunteers to keep the trail clear, and ensure that the trail will remain pristine and undeveloped for future generations.”

The Trail Series will be available at natural food stores and outdoor retailers nationwide, available at a suggested retail price of $3.99.

World Finer Foods Adds Premium Valor Chocolates to Award-Winning Family of Products

Liberty Richter, a division of World Finer Foods, has added Valor Chocolates to the company’s comprehensive assortment of premium products. For more than 130 years (since 1881), Valor Chocolates, based in Spain, has crafted some of the most exquisite chocolates and bonbons, using the finest cocoa beans from various parts of the globe including Ecuador, Panama and Ghana. The master chocolatier has been honored with accolades such as the “2011 European Candy Kettle Award,” one of the most prestigious awards in this sector.

Produced with the very purest raw materials, specially selected from the best harvests, and by a unique, traditional manufacturing method, Valor Chocolates offers indulgent, “pleasure-igniting” flavors. Valor also offers more health-conscious yet equally delightful no sugar added, lactose-free and gluten-free versions. Among the artful chocolate treats now available in the U.S. exclusively through World Finer Foods and its Liberty Richter division are:

  • Dark and Milk Chocolate bars featuring Whole Marcona Almonds
  • No Sugar Added 70% Dark Chocolate bars featuring a variety of flavors including Truffle, Orange and Hazelnut
  • No Sugar Added Milk and Dark Chocolate bars with Marcona Almonds and Hazelnuts
  • 70%  Dark Chocolate bars with a variety of flavors including Orange, Mint, Forest Fruits, Toffee and Mediterranean Sea Salt
  • Cocoa Powders
  • Seasonal Gift Packs

“We continue to focus on growing our portfolio of premium brands and Valor Chocolates is the perfect addition to our mix,” stated Susan Guerin, CEO of World Finer Foods.  “The quality of their products, innovative recipes and unparalleled manufacturing capabilities deliver a premium range of chocolates. We look forward to raising awareness and expanding distribution of the Valor brand. We’re especially excited to promote the no sugar added assortment which offers consumers not only a healthier option but also the same great taste as the traditional line of chocolates.”

As a premier confectioner, Valor has adopted the quality strategy and focuses on continual innovation to bring the highest quality of chocolate goods to the customer.  The Company’s latest creation of a range of no sugar added chocolates, blends an exclusive recipe developed by Valor’s Master Chocolatiers which preserves the richness and unique taste of its traditional chocolate products.  Valor’s All Natural range is free of artificial flavoring and preservatives and is made with the finest cocoa grown, guaranteeing the full “from bean to bar” confectionary process.  These all natural products have been specifically developed for the U.S. market where 100 percent natural products are increasingly appreciated and demanded by consumers.

Gonzalo Sanchez, Export Director of Valor Chocolates stated, “Valor Chocolates has been successfully marketed in the U.S. for the past 15 years and has a strong and loyal consumer following.  We believe now is the time for expansion and in order to take our brand to the next level, we needed a partner that understands our heritage and offering, as well as one with an extensive nationwide reach.  Liberty Richter, with their distribution capabilities, customer relationships, and sales and marketing support services is the perfect partner, and we look forward to working with them to bring our assortment of specialty chocolates to those consumers who demand and crave the very best.”

“As the pioneer in specialty products, we have extensive relationships nationwide across all retail channels and see tremendous opportunities to bring Valor Chocolates to consumers who demand the very best,” said Guerin.  Our team is committed to delivering an unparalleled customer experience to both our brand and distribution partners, and the combination of Liberty Richter and Valor will be a powerful recipe for success in the premium chocolate market. We look forward to showcasing the product line at the Summer Fancy Food Show and meeting with our customers and partners to further drive innovation.”

 

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