How Sweet It Is: Millie’s Caramels
Nearly all of my favorite sweet treats come from local bakers and candy makers. From Tracy Dempsey’s award-winning desserts to Lin Sue Cooney’s Pecan Toffee, I don’t have to travel far from my backyard to get my sugar fix. Now, I have a new confectioner and sweet addition to add to that list: Millie’s Caramels.
Founded by local resident (and by-day photographer), Jill McNamara, the recently launched company sells a variety of truly extraordinary caramels and various confections at shops and farmers’ markets across the Valley. The name, Millie’s Caramels, pays homage to her late grandmother… which I thought was a very sweet tribute; I always think of my grandmother whenever I’m baking in my own kitchen.
Jill strives to use as many local ingredients in her creations as possible. You’ll find locally-produced dairy, peanut butter, honey, citrus, vanilla and herbs used throughout her product line. When you purchase a set of her goodies, you can not only feel good about supporting a local business, but also supporting a business that supports local businesses!
I had a chance to taste test a few of the caramel varieties, though Millie’s offers many flavors including: Salted Vanilla Bean, Bourbon Pecan, Espresso, Ginger & Toasted Coconut, Lemon, Peanut Butter & Honey, Rosemary & Black Pepper, Salt & Pepper, and Spicy Chili.
- Salted Vanilla Bean | I’m a big fan of anything ‘salted’ and this was no exception. I loved the salty and sweet contrast and the rich, floral notes from the vanilla bean with the buttery caramel. If there had to be a one-size-fits-all flavor for every caramel lover, this would be it.
- Rosemary & Black Pepper | A more modern variation on traditional caramel, the herbaceousness of the rosemary was the perfect complement to the spicy black pepper… all rolled together in that sweet, buttery caramel.
- Ginger & Toasted Coconut | I loved that this one had some texture from the tiny bits of toasted coconut fused in the caramel. I thought the bright, natural spiciness of the raw ginger paired really well with the coconut. This one was great with tea!
The caramels are sold in packages of 8 for $9 and come individually wrapped. Their soft and sticky texture quickly melts in your mouth… you can imagine how difficult it is to resist devouring an entire package.
I thought they were delicious all on their own (though this could dangerously become a nightly snacking habit for me), but if you exercise a bit of creativity, there are plenty of ways to use these in your own baking creations—think salted caramel-filled brownies or mini caramel-apple pies! I even dropped one in a cup of tea to give it a hint of that sweet, buttery caramel goodness.
Millie’s also sells a line of confections including Caramel on Rosemary & Black Pepper Shortbread, Orange Zest Caramel on Orange and Almond Shortbread, Chewy Brownies with Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel, Bourbon and Dark Chocolate “Tipsy Turtles” and a “Tropical Turtle” that includes her ginger caramel, dark chocolate and toasted caramel. Confections are sold in sets of 4 for $14.
Find her products at the Astor House in Phoenix, Urban Table at JAM, Phoenix Public Market Café and various farmers’ markets around the Valley. Find specific locations on their website or order online for convenience at milliescaramels.com.
We received samples to facilitate the review; however, our opinions are wholly our own. View our Disclosure Policy for more info.