Happy New Year! It seems like forever since we sent out our last recipe and to tell you the truth the last half of 2021 was a complete blur. I am happy to say that we are FINALLY up and running in our new facility and we are so excited for the future of Caramel Kitchen! If you just want to get to the recipe, (which I don't blame you because it's one of my childhood favorites), just keep scrolling. Otherwise, stick around for a recap of the last half of our year.
As with many small businesses, the past couple of years have been hard. The uncertainty of whether or not people would still shop with us online instead of seeing us at the shows and events we usually do, (but got cancelled), was, not gonna lie, scary. But as our online orders increased, we began to breathe easier and as your notes of encouragement poured it, our spirits were lifted and our faith that our business would survive, renewed! As with most things, I look back and see that God's timing is always perfect and those orders and notes came in on the days we most needed them. So what I'm saying is thank you for your continued support, both financially and emotionally. You buy our caramel, you share our caramel and you let us know that you love our caramel....We really do have the best customers and our lives are blessed because of you!
Over the last several months many people have asked why we left the Silver Lake Mall. The decision to leave wasn't entirely ours. The mall came under new ownership and a renovation was planned, including the space we occupied. We were already in the process of moving our manufacturing into a new FDA certified facility that was under construction with a scheduled move in date a month later than our move out date from the mall. We made as much caramel sauce as we could to get us through our down time of the move and said a tearful goodbye to our little shop. The transition to our new building took longer to complete than was expected, (this should come as a total shocker to anyone who's ever built or remodeled anything) and the stock pile we made to get us through had dwindled.
It was during this time we were informed that we were the 2021 recipient of the Specialty Food Associations GOLD Sofi award for our salted caramel sauce! Winning this award has always been a dream of mine for Caramel Kitchen. But being such a small business, I doubted we would ever be recognized and secretly sent our sauce off to be judged, I didn't even tell Brad!! When I got the news that we had won....even beating companies from France, I was overcome with emotion. The original email letting me know we won had actually come a week earlier, but landed itself in my spam folder and it wasn't until I got our certificate in the mail that I became aware. With shaking hands and tear filled eyes I handed the letter to Brad. Looking at me he thought tragedy had hit, but within minutes he was twirling me around asking how this happened! This was the biggest moment in life of Caramel Kitchen but one I couldn't shout from the roof tops because when the announcement came, we were literally SOLD OUT of salted caramel sauce!! I was afraid even more orders would come in that we couldn't fill that I chose not to make a public announcement. It killed me and I was such a mix of high and low emotions!!!
Not being up and running in production was the hardest period of time for me. So many of you, who were used to getting your caramel sauce within days of ordering, were being asked to wait weeks, even months for your patience in getting it delivered. Again, we were so blessed by your graciousness. By the end of August we were finally up and running, actually sprinting, to catch up with our online, fall and holiday season demands. And all of this is to say why I have seemingly gone "dark" the past several months. This time really magnified my humanity. My desire is to do all, be all, for you, for my family because your support of us and our business deserves that from me. But I realized that I just couldn't and I needed the time to take a breath and be ok with doing a few things really well and let the other wants I had for the business come in naturally, instead of forcefully cramming them into my days. Moving our manufacturing was a necessary change for Caramel Kitchen, but one I hope I don't have to do again for a very long time!
Another exciting highlight in the past few months is that Elizabeth welcomed her new son, Cruz into the world! If you happen to call in, you might hear his sweet baby babbles in the background as Elizabeth has transitioned into a home office setting so that she can spend as much time as possible with Cruz while servicing the needs of our customers. He is absolutely the most beautiful baby and we couldn't be happier for Elizabeth and her family. For those of you who know Elizabeth's story, you will know that Cruz is a true gift from God and is another example of God's redemptive heart.
So now that you're all up to speed on what we've been doing, let's talk about todays recipe! I can't even tell you how many times I watched my grandma whip this mac n' cheese together as a kid. It has always been my most requested meal from her and it's my go to recipe when I need some comfort food. Eating it is like getting a big hug from my grandma! It's creamy, cheesy inside meets crispy cheesy outside is the perfect combination of textures. Adding our bourbon caramel bacon jam on top adds some sweet meaty heat that pairs excellently with my grandmas classic dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Cheers to comfort food and Heres to a great 2022!