You want these. You really, really want these. I promise not to succumb to a “brown paper packages tied up in strings” reference (look at that packaging… brown! paper! packages! tied up in strings!), but once you try these Shotwell Candy Co. caramels, you’ll be singing their praises like a musical nun running through Alpine meadows in the springtime.
First off, these caramels are simply among the very best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few. I was in Paris last year and made a point of stopping by the acclaimed shop of Henri le Roux, who “put the butter/ salt/ caramel combination on the map” a few decades ago. Shotwell’s are every bit as good to my tastes. (And by the way, I hate pulling out the “I was in Paris” card… yes, I’m a lucky bastard for having the opportunity to spend some time there and gorge myself on caramels and macarons and croissant and baguettes… but I can’t help but rejoice in the fact that this tiny little American candy company is turning out sweets that would make a Parisian swoon in disbelief.)
Yes, Shotwell’s caramels are an American artisan product, a Southern artisan product. Maybe you don’t give a flip, but Shotwell’s caramels are hand crafted in Memphis (my hometown), and it’s always good to see great things coming out of Memphis. I expect great pulled pork, I expect great music, but I never expected great caramels.
And finally, Shotwell is employing some ingredients that are close to my Thirsty South heart. There’s the Memphis-brewed Ghost River Copperhead Red Ale that goes into Shotwell’s Craft Beer & Pretzel caramels. Or the Memphis-roasted (by J. Brooks Coffee Roaster) Costa Rican Tarrazu coffee beans that go into the Hand-Crushed Espresso caramels. And, good gracious, there’s the bourbon and bitters that go into Shotwell’s “Old Fashioned” Cocktail caramels.
I first heard about Shotwell Candy Co. in a Garden & Gun article last summer, but it wasn’t until they became available in the Scoutmob Shoppe that I noticed some buzz around Shotwell and was reminded that I needed to try their caramels, stat. (An aside… isn’t Scoutmob’s use of “Shoppe” a bit twee? even more twee than using the word “twee”? why couldn’t they have called it the Scoutmob Country Store, or the Scoutmob Old Country Market by the Side of the Interstate that’s Really Just a Virtual Country Store on the Internet? These are important questions.)
In any case, I exchanged a few tweets with Shotwell founder/operator/does-it-all, Jerrod Smith, and soon had a few brown paper packages tied up in strings (dang it) on my kitchen table. My kids and I were soon unwrapping the little brown bundles of joy and digging in with wide grins on our caramel-stuffed faces.
It’s hard to beat their original salted caramels, which settle into your mouth for a few seconds then hit you with a heavenly rush of butter and salt and sweetness that lingers long after you’ve finished a bite. Glorious stuff. But then the Beer & Pretzel version comes along, with its crunch and chew and dark brown sugary sweetness. While the original salted caramels are serene and warrant contemplation, the Beer & Pretzel caramels are like a hearty cheer amidst a raucous pub crowd. As for the Hand-crushed Espresso caramels… have you ever had the Caramellato coffee at Octane in Atlanta or Birmingham? It’s an awesome marriage of dark espresso and creamy milk and sweet caramel. And Shotwell’s Espresso caramels are a crunchier, chewier version of that. Just as awesome.
So check out Shotwell’s website and order some for yourself. They’re better than cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles… yes, Shotwell’s caramels are indeed some of my favorite things.
More pretty pictures of brown paper packages tied up in strings below: