Mmmm… sweet and salty. A classic, yet unlikely flavor combination. At first glance, the union of sweet and salty sounds strange, doesn’t it? It doesn’t sound like it would taste good, but it does and we love it!
The savory flavor of salt enhances the sweetness of some of our favorite treats, just try sprinkling a little salt on your watermelon this summer, you’ll definitely notice a difference!
These are some fairly common examples of sweet and salty flavor combinations:
- Fruit and cheese plates
- Chocolate covered pretzels (or wetzels as they’re known at Winans)
- Trail mix with nuts and chocolate or dried fruit
- French fries dipped in a Wendy’s frosty (it’s an Ohio thing!)
- Peanuts and Dr. Pepper (it’s a southern thing!)
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches…
You get the idea right? We could go on but we’re starting to get hungry!
The combination of salt with sweet, buttery caramel is one of our favorite new flavor pairings! This tasty union has seen a surge in popularity in the past 10 years. Salted caramels are a traditional treat hailing from Brittany, France. In the late 1990s and early 2000, American chefs became interested in the flavor combo after French pastry chef Pierre Hermé invented a salted caramel macaron.
This isn’t to say that salted caramel as a flavor was completely unfamiliar to Americans. Just think of chocolate turtles (like Winans’ wurtles), pralines and Cracker Jack, which was created in 1893.
We’ve been making caramels for over 50 years at Winans. We still use Max Winans’ original recipe for buttery rich and chewy caramels. For our sea salt caramels, which we debuted 5 years ago, we use fine sea salt instead of the regular salt in the caramel recipe. After the caramel is cooked in our copper kettles, we pour it onto steel tables to cool. Once fully cooled, we cut the caramels into bite-sized rectangles and cover them in milk or dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm and melted, we hand sprinkle a touch of Mediterranean sea salt on each one. Just a touch of salt to bring out a little extra sweetness.
Once the caramels run through a cooling tunnel they’re ready to be packaged into gift boxes or sent in stock boxes for filling the candy cases in our stores.
You could enjoy your sea salt caramel on its own, but if you’re also going to get coffee during your next trip to Winans, why not pair your brew with your sweet and salty treat? We recommend pairing a sea salt caramel with our single origin Indonesian Sumatra or Monsoon Malabar coffee or our Mo Joe Blend or Mokka Java Blend. These coffees have earthy notes that pair well with the sweet, buttery flavors of caramel. You also can’t go wrong with a salted caramel latte or our Salted Caramel flavored coffee!
The New York Times: How Caramel Developed a Taste for Salt
How Stuff Works: Why do sweet and salty taste so good together?
How Stuff Works: Who invented salted caramel?
All Recipes: Coffee Pairing
Our Everyday Life: Pairing Coffee with Desserts
Spring is almost here and the bunnies are back at Winans! We’ve been busy at the factory making marshmallow, bagging up novelty Easter candies and of course, making lots and lots of chocolate bunnies!
Winans has been making chocolate molds for over 50 years! Chocolatiers began using chocolate molds in the mid-1830s in France. These molds were made of sheet copper, stamped with geometric shapes to make solid chocolate candies in mass quantities. Prior to the advent of chocolate molds, chocolate was consumed in liquid form only. As the popularity of molded chocolate rose, small animals and other figures were also created in mold form.
Max Winans, founder of Winans, used metal molds from Germany. Many of the metal molds that Winans owns were made by Anton Reiche. Some are just marked as being from West Germany. Anton Reiche is a famous mold manufacturer from Dresden, Germany. He founded his mold company in 1870. German mold manufacturers excelled at making chocolate molds in a variety of sizes with incredible detail and designs. Molds of sitting rabbits or bunnies are the most common of the antique chocolate molds.
We still make many of the molds that Max Winans first made at Winans in the 1960s, but we no longer use the original metal molds. Max took the metal molds and had them recast in plastic. This allows us to make more bunny molds at a time and results in a higher quality mold.
In March of 1978, the Piqua Daily Call published an article about the large collection of chocolate molds Max had acquired over the years. Check out the article, Molds / More to them than chocolate!
Chocolate picks up any imperfections in the mold. Over time metal molds lose shine and are easily scratched, both the lack of shine and scratches would show up in the chocolate. With the plastic reproduction of our original molds we are able to carry on Max’s traditions while still creating beautifully molded chocolate! Our sitting and standing bunnies, as well as our bunnies with backpacks, walking sticks, carts, baskets (as well as Race Car Bunny!) are all cast from our original metal molds. The Floppy Ear Bunny and the Big Eye Bunny are much younger than our other bunnies.
Since we no longer use most of our original metal molds, we have them on display in our Hometown Store in Piqua! If you look closely at the molds, you might notice their manufacturing mark (many of them were made in Germany by Anton Reiche) or see where Max soldered the clips onto the mold. Most molds are multiple pieces and have to be clamped together with clips. To keep track of his clips and make the molds easier to use, Max soldered the clips onto one of the pieces of the mold. Today our plastic molds are held together with magnets!
In order to make our molded bunnies today, warm, tempered chocolate is poured into each mold. Then the molds have to be shaken in order to remove bubbles and evenly distribute the chocolate. The chocolate molds sit in a cold, refrigerated room until the chocolate is solidified and can be removed from the molds. Sometimes excess chocolate has to be trimmed or shaved from the bunny before it can be packaged and sent to a store or a customer at home.
Our bunnies are available in milk, dark and white chocolate. A few of our bunnies are also made in peanut butter. Our biggest bunny is Big Max, named after Max Winans! He weighs in at 20 pounds and was first introduced in 2013.
We hope that one of our many molded bunnies will be part of your family’s Easter tradition this year!
If you want to learn more about chocolate molds, check out these resources below:
Das Schokoladenformen Museum: The Chocolate Molds Museum
Dad’s Follies: Antiques & Collectibles Metal Chocolate Molds—The Beginning
The Golden Glow of Christmas Past: Vintage Christmas Collectibles Christmas Chocolate/Candy Molds
If one (or all!) of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 involve making healthier choices, including coffee in your daily routine can be a great addition. A study published by the American Heart Association in November 2015 found that folks “who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee.” Decaf drinkers saw added benefits as well.
When comparing coffee drinkers to non-coffee drinkers, those who regularly enjoy a cup of joe are less likely to have type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee drinkers also have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes.
In addition to giving you a mental boost and improving your mood, coffee beans are full of nutrients and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that help our bodies protect against certain diseases and illnesses).
Coffee can also improve your daily workout. The caffeine in coffee can improve your reaction time and coordination as well as increase your speed. Caffeine can also increase the concentration of endorphins in your brain, those awesome hormones that produce a “runner’s high.”
The healthiest way to enjoy coffee is to drink it black, without milk or sugar. If you like espresso, you could try an Americano, which is espresso diluted with hot water until it has a similar concentration as coffee.
Not a caffeine fiend but still want a healthy hand crafted Winans beverage? Try one of our açaí smoothies, made with Sambazon açaí puree. It’s a delicious tropical smoothie full of antioxidants. We also serve a variety of fruit crushers made with real fruit! Tea drinkers will enjoy our caffeine-free varieties of black and green tea as well as our naturally caffeine-free rooibos (ROY-bus) or “red tea.” Winans also locally roasts decaf coffee.
Here’s to a healthy, happy new year with Winans Chocolates & Coffees!
Learn more about making coffee a healthy addition to your life:
Coffee and Your Health from WebMD
Drink To Your Health: Study Links Daily Coffee Habit To Longevity from NPR
What are the Risks (and Rewards) of Caffeine as a Runner from Runner’s Connect
Stay tuned for Part II: Mesocacao Chocolate!
The information presented in this blog is offered for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as personal medical advice. This information is not medical advice and should not be treated as such.