Armed with a spoon in the kitchen can be a dangerous thing.
Heading over to the pantry, there are things like peanut butter and coconut-vanilla syrup. And the fridge can be even more of a hot zone, housing spoon-able treats like pudding, custard, mousse, or jam. Or yogurt treats.
And caramel. Always rich caramel, with its beautiful flavor notes.
Complex flavors with subtle nuances are the two main reasons I adore coffee, chocolate, and caramel in general. And now Fat Toad Farm’s caramel in particular.
This family-owned and run goat dairy in Vermont hand-crafts artisanal caramel sauces from fresh goat’s milk. The sauces, which are known as Cajeta, make good use of fresh, natural ingredients. They are wonderfully decadent with nuanced earthy notes, especially notes of nut and honey. They aren’t over-the-top sweet (which I love about them!) because of the tang from goat’s milk; rather, they have that same slight edge that I love about chèvre.
Fat Toad Farm was kind enough to let me sample all four of their flavors: original, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salted bourbon. They were all incredible, but my favorite was the salted bourbon, which was incredibly velvety with smoky, buttery flavor notes. And no worries about giving it to the kiddos; Hannah from Fat Toad Farm said:
Our Salted Bourbon caramel doesn’t actually have any alcohol in it – we add the bourbon at the very end of the reduction process when the caramel is at about 220F so all the alcohol burns off, immediately leaving only the smooth, smoky bourbon flavor behind – honey, butter, and a hint of dark fruit.
The one thing I noticed about the different flavors is that there was a bit of variation in texture, with some flavors being super smooth and velvety. Hannah was kind enough to explain the caramelization process; according to her:
The caramelization process is a finicky thing; like chocolate, it is incredibly volatile and unpredictable. We’ve been making caramel almost every day for six years and still every day is a new adventure. There are a number of factors that could contribute to slight differences in the consistency – the most likely is the milk. The fat content and composition of our milk changes throughout the course of the season depending on the time of year, how recently our goats had their babies, what their eating (i.e. what’s growing in the pastures – clover vs. milkweed vs. thistle, etc.). The milk is definitely fattier in the spring after they’ve all had their kids. The ingredients will also change the texture. For example, the organic vanilla beans we use release some oils into that particular flavor caramel. Finally, there are three people on our farm who manage the caramel finishing process and decide when it’s done (me, my sister, and my mom) and we all have a slightly different style and method.
What’s not to love about a fantastic product that’s hand-crafted by a family of artisans?
If you’d like to try Fat Toad Farm’s caramel for yourself, you are in luck because they are giving away a large caramel gift box to one reader! It includes four (8 oz) jars of their caramel, one of each flavor: original, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salted bourbon.
To participate in this giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me what flavor of caramel you think you’d like best (original, vanilla bean, cinnamon, or salted bourbon). For an extra entry, leave another comment telling me how you’d use the caramel (eaten off a spoon is a perfectly fine answer, lol).
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. This giveaway ends Friday, May 31, 2013 at 5AM EST. After that the winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. Good luck to all!
Disclaimer: Fat Toad Farm sent me a sampling of their caramel for free, and they are also providing the product for this giveaway. As always, opinions stated are my own.