Tag Archives: confections

Tahana Caramels


I love a good caramel. I always have. When I was much younger, there was an unincorporated area in Wilmette that everyone called No Man’s Land, and a shop there called The Amber Light introduced me to the first really outstanding, handmade caramels I’d ever had (vs. the considerably less exciting commercial caramels I’d previously encountered).

Since then, I’ve had a fair number of truly splendid caramels in a variety of locations, but so far, I don’t think I’ve had any that were better than those produced by a small, artisanal confectioner in New Hampshire named Tahana Caramels. Now, I realize this may seem like a challenge–everyone will want to tell me about a local caramel they like better. That’s not a bad thing. I like to know where to get the good stuff. That said, if you don’t know someone making exquisite, handmade caramels, then Tahana may be your portal into the splendor of these gloriously soft, luxurious, buttery confections.

The website for Tahana Caramels–http://www.tahanaconfections.com/–shows you where the caramels are available, should you find yourself in New England, but also offer you the option of ordering them online. My preferences run to the original vanilla caramels and the seasonal spice caramels. However, these are not the only options.

If the only caramel you’ve ever had came in a plastic bag that was sitting on a shelf in the grocery store, you owe it to yourself to at least once try really good caramel. If you have a local candy maker, buying local is good. But if not, Tahana is a great option for sampling a really fine example of this confection.

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Truffes au Chocolat

Today, people call just about any piece of chocolate with a ganache filling “truffle.” It has gotten to the point where the term is so common in this context, some people are surprised to learn that the word “truffle” actually originally applied to something other than chocolate.

Truffles—real truffles—are wonderful fungi that grow on tree roots. They are a bit lumpy, looking rather like something that was intended to be spherical but got slightly battered. However, they are beautiful to those who fancy them. I adore the earthy flavor and fragrance of truffles.

Chocolate truffles began to become popular in the early 1900s. They were called “chocolate truffles” because they looked like real truffles (black truffles, that is; there are also white truffles, but that’s not what these imitate). The original chocolate truffles (which are still commonly made in Europe) did not have a chocolate coating, and they were not perfectly round. They were, like real truffles, a bit lumpy, and they were dusted with cocoa powder, to keep them from sticking together, as well as to suggest the dry dirt that might cling to a real truffle. They were meant to amuse the eye, as well as the palate. Because they are not coated, they are quite delicate—which is probably why folks started coating them. They’re easier to package and ship. But that doesn’t mean they’re better. Continue reading

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