Delicious Caramel Cocktails Perfect for New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is the biggest party of the year and deserves a drink (or two) to match.  It’s definitely a night that screams for more than the usual wines, beers and mixed cocktails.  To help you ring in 2019, we’ve collected a variety of delicious caramel-inspired drink recipes.  Dazzle your guests with these fun, festive and easy to make caramel concoctions. 

Caramel-Infused

Caramel cocktails McCrea's Candies

The first step in making these delicious cocktails is to infuse your favorite alcohol with your favorite caramels.  The Martini Diva has a very easy to follow recipe for this.  It calls for 25 McCrea’s Candies caramels, one 750 ml. bottle of booze, quart-size infusing jars and a few other items.  Simple to make, the infusion will take a day or two at most and makes a great basis for a wide range of tasty tipples, including the ones below.

The Martini Diva’s Caramel Ginger Apple Martini

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Ginger Infused Caramel Rum

1 oz Apple Pucker

1 oz apple cider

Caramel Sauce (see below for making sauce from McCrea’s Candies’ caramel)

Ice

Directions:

Drizzle some caramel sauce into the bowl of your cocktail glass then immediately place in the freezer to freeze drizzle in place.  Shake all the other ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour into your chilled glass and enjoy.

The Martini Diva’s Salted Caramel Macchiato Martini

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Vanilla Infused Vodka

2 shots chilled espresso

1 shot heavy cream

¼ tsp/ vanilla extract

Caramel syrup

Coarse Sea Salt

Directions:

Dip the rim of your martini glass in some caramel syrup. Sprinkle a bit of the coarse sea salt onto the caramel, then chill your glass in the freezer.  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in the infused vodka, espresso, cream and vanilla extract then shake until well chilled.  Pour into your chilled and rimmed glass.  Dust with ground espresso beans, garnish with a salted caramel candy and enjoy.

Dylan Holcomb’s Coconut Caramel Mule

This luscious libation from master mixologist Dylan Holcomb calls for Gubba Rum Silver Coconut Rum infused with McCrea's Candies Ginger Fusion and Classic Vanilla caramels and mixed with pineapple juice and ginger beer for the most delicious Coconut Caramel Mule, his take on a Moscow Mule.

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz caramel-infused Gubba Silver Coconut Rum

½ oz. pineapple juice

3 oz. ginger beer

Ice

Directions:

Once you've infused the rum with 14 pieces of McCrea's Candies Ginger Fusion Caramel and 6 pieces of McCrea's Candies Classic Vanilla Caramel, build all ingredients in a copper mug and stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and McCrea’s Candies Ginger Fusion Caramel.

 

Caramel-Rimmed

Caramel Cocktails McCrea's Candies

The following recipes call for a caramel-rimmed cocktail glass.  This is easy to do using McCrea’s Candies’ caramel and a bit of half-and-half.   Put half and half and your choice of one of McCrea’s 15 flavors of caramel in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10 second intervals, whisking in between, until smooth sauce is created. If sauce is too thin, add more caramels. If too thick, add more half and half in ½ tsp intervals. Use immediately by drizzling onto the rim of a cocktail glass or by pouring into a shallow dish and dipping the rim of the cocktail glass into the caramel. For best results immediately freeze caramel-rimmed cocktail glasses and remove just before use.

Try these caramel-rimmed cocktails for a truly decadent and caramel-icous New Year’s Eve:

This Salted Caramel Chocolate Martini from 3 Yummy Tummies is an absolute dream in a glass. It features a glass rimmed with caramel (we’d use our Black Lave Sea Salt for an extra punch of saltiness) AND crushed pretzel and contains chocolate liqueur and caramel infused vodka.  If we’re dreaming this, we never want to wake up.

We love the festive touch of this Salted Caramel Cupcake Shot.  The glass is rimmed with caramel and sprinkles.  It’s a party in (on?) a glass…ideal for New Year’s Eve.

How does the cookie crumble?  Hopefully, right onto your cocktail glass rim!  This Oatmeal Cookie Martini takes the idea of cookies and milk to the next level and calls for a cocktail glass rimmed in caramel and oatmeal cookie crumbs. 

Planning a cozy get together and want a drink to match?  Try this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.  Rim your favorite mug with caramel and then add mini chocolate chips or another of your favorite sweet treats. Melt-in-your mouth goodness.

 

Caramel Garnished

Caramel cocktails McCrea's Candies

The easiest to execute, this category of caramel cocktails uses caramel candy as a garnish.  Place several of your favorite caramels onto a cocktail pick and add to your libation or use kitchen shears to snip a small caramel and place directly onto the rim.

Here are some fun and festive caramel-garnished concoctions to jazz up your New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Kissing Caramel was developed by I Sing in the Kitchen specifically for December 31st.  It combines flavored vodkas with a bit of coffee liqueur then adds on whipped cream and a caramel garnish, making for a very happy first night indeed!

My Caffeinated Chaos has perfected the Salted Caramel Martini.  It’s the ideal blend of sweet and salty and would be a tasty addition to your party’s drink menu this year. Everyone loves a good vodka martini right?!

Go straight from dinner to dessert with this Caramel Cheesecake Martini from Happy Food Happy Life.  Vodka, caramel sauce, and half and half combine perfectly to recreate your favorite dessert in drink form. Cheesecake with a kick!

Continuing the dessert-in-a-glass theme, check out this Butter Toffee Cocktail.  Comprised of three different spirits, it's an irresistible and delightful end-of-night caramel treat.

Happy New Years!

P.S.  Please drink responsibly.

Fun and Delicious Thanksgiving Traditions From the McCrea’s Team

McCrea's Candies Caramel Gift Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving, we all enjoy turkey, stuffing and spending time with loved ones.  Still, there are elements to everyone’s celebration that make it special. Each family brings its own customs and traditions to the table.  We took some time to explore what makes the holiday unique for members of the McCrea’s team. Read on to learn about the fun and delicious elements that make Thanksgiving special to us.

Making a Special Family Recipe

McCrea's Candies Caramel Holiday Gift Thanksiging

Every McCrea’s team member can point to that one dish that makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.  For Jason McCrea, co-founder, it’s his grandmother’s custard cream puffs, served for years as the ultimate finishing touch to a traditional family meal.  For Sugar Chef Jake Chess, it’s his mother’s cranberry mold.

“My mother worked on that recipe for years,” he said.  “At first the results were only so-so, however, she never gave up and now it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.  Made with cream cheese and Jello, I look forward to it every year.”

Tinisha Lopes, sugar chef, says it’s not Thanksgiving without her family’s green bean casserole. Julie Ayotte, director of sales, prepares mashed turnips and carrots every year.  In Sugar Chef Tony Darosa’s family, it’s the homemade eggnog and stuffing that completes the meal.  Linda Caloumenos, a member of the McCrea’s packing team, also swears by her mom’s stuffing, a secret recipe consisting of chestnuts and sausage.  And, Cat Harrigan, sugar chef, salivates when describing her family’s must have dish, sweet potato casserole.

The recipe, says Cat, is deceptively simple: “Brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and butter, lots and lots of butter.”

Incorporating Family Heritage

McCrea's Candies Caramel Holiday Gift

Celebrating where they come from enables many McCrea’s team members to put a unique twist on the traditional Thanksgiving celebration.  Tinisha is part Wampanoag.  Her family comes together every year and enjoys turtle soup.  Co-founder Kate McCrea’s family pays homage to its roots by laying out both the traditional American turkey dinner side by side with an Italian feast, the highlight of which is the perfect lasagna.  Matt Roche (sales and operations) also enjoys an Italian feast alongside the more traditional offerings. 

“Every other year, we dine with my family on Thanksgiving,” Matt explains.  “We enjoy eggplant and chicken parmesan along with lots of pasta dishes and garlic bread.  It makes for a very filling day.”

Getting Competitive

McCrea's Candies Caramel Holiday Gift

Kristina Pavone, sales and marketing, calls her Thanksgiving pretty traditional, with one exception.

"My dad prepares a turkey in the oven while my grandfather deep fries his,” explains Kristina.  “There’s a competition to see who makes the best dish.”  According to Kristina the twenty-year competition has yet to yield an ultimate victor.

Diane Parazin, McCrea’s director of marketing, says her family always lays out a puzzle or two, in a tradition that has turned into quite the competition.

“My daughter is a puzzle aficionado and can ALWAYS find that missing piece.  Both my father-in-law and my mother are very much into puzzles as well.  It becomes a race to see who can find the right fit first,” she said.  “And the harder the puzzle, the better.”

Having Fun

McCrea's Candies Caramel Holiday Gift

Nothing says Thanksgiving like football.  When Matt thinks about the holiday, he immediately thinks about gathering around the TV to watch the day’s big games. Diane’s family, too, enjoys watching and making fun bets (like who has to wash the dishes) on the outcome of the day’s head-to-head football matchups.

Julie and her husband make sure to take time for just the two of them every year.  They book-end holiday celebrations by tuning into the same favorites… Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning, The National Dog Show midday and a special movie in the evening.

“We alternate between It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas,” explains Julie.  “It caps off a wonderful day and gets us in the mood for all of the December holiday festivities.”

Jake and his family, however, have an entirely different idea when it comes to fun on Thanksgiving Day.  Every year the Chess family listens – and sings along --- to Arlo Guthrie’s hit single, Alice’s Restaurant.  This fabulous tradition, says Jake, has been going on since before he was born.

And, if it’s snowing or too cold to enjoy outdoor activities over the holiday weekend, Jason likes to organize “fix it days” where he hauls projects and tools out of the garage for his boys to work on.

“It usually turns into a sculpture-building contest,” he laughs.  “I’m not sure anything gets fixed, but it sure demystifies how things work and generates some awesome artwork.”

Giving Back

McCrea's Candies Caramel Holiday Gift

Showcasing the very best of McCrea’s, Hal Harkins (shipping and receiving) spends the holiday helping his cousin who is a caretaker for two special needs adults.  He heads to her house and cooks Thanksgiving dinner for her charges, freeing her to spend time with family.  Then he heads back home to curl up and watch Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies.

Jim LaFond-Lewis, McCrea’s director of operations, is also one to give back.  He can often be found walking the watershed areas of Hyde Park, Mass., and collecting trash.  If weather permits, he says, he’ll most likely find himself taking a walk over the holiday weekend, photographing nature and picking up garbage along with way.

We hope this peek into the holiday traditions of McCrea’s team members gives you a few ideas you can incorporate into your own festivities.  Whether you’re expecting a house full of guests or holding a more intimate gathering, including some of these fun, touching and delicious customs may help make your Thanksgiving even more special.

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at McCrea's!

 

Six Easy-to-Make Appetizers Featuring Caramel

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Long days and warm weather call for backyard barbecues, pool parties and potlucks.  Whether you are hosting or attending, it’s a good idea to keep a repertoire of quick appetizers on hand. 

This year, add some fresh flavor to your summer gatherings by crafting easy-to-make nibbles using caramel. Julie Ayotte, our director of sales, calling on her background as a chef, has created a variety of easy-to-prepare delicious dishes based on six of McCrea’s Candies’ fifteen flavors of caramel.

From Dates Stuffed with Cape Cod Sea Salt Caramel to Ricotta Salata Cheese topped with Slivered Single Malt Scotch Caramel, she shows you how to make summer appetizers that are app-solutely perfect for all your warm weather fetes.  Select one or make them all for a fun and festive caramel tasting flight.

Dates Stuffed with Cape Cod Sea Salt Caramel and Finished with a Salted Sugar Rim

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

12 pitted dried dates

6 McCrea’s candies Cape Cod Sea Salt caramels

1 tbsp. coarse sanding/decorating sugar

1 tbsp. coarse sea salt

Directions:

Combine sugar and salt in a shallow dish. Slice a thin slit length-wise along 1 side of each date. Cut each caramel in half and roll each between your hands to elongate. Fill cut date with elongated caramel. Close date around caramel.  Coat each filled date by dipping top end of date (where the caramel shows) into the sugar/salt mixture. If the sugar/salt does not stick, you can put a dab of water on the end to help. Place dates on serving plate slit side down and sprinkle a little more of the sugar/salt mixture. Serve with additional sugar/salt on the side for people to dip.

Makes: 12

Black Mission Figs Stuffed with Tapped Maple Caramel

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

12 black mission figs

3 McCrea’s Candies Tapped Maple caramels

Directions:

Remove tip of fig. Slice a cross lengthwise down the fig without cutting all the way through to the bottom. Pull back the 4 pieces to reveal the interior of fig. Cut each maple caramel into quarters. Roll each section into a ball and place in the center of each fig.

Makes: 12

Ricotta Salata Cheese with Slivered Single Malt Scotch Caramel and a Honey Drizzle

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

16 slices of Ricotta Salata cheese cut 1/4-inch thick

2 McCrea’s Candies Single Malt Scotch caramels

1 tbsp. honey

Directions:

Arrange cut cheese slices on plate. Cut each caramel in 4 slices (4 rounds), then cut each round into a half-moon. Put 1 half-moon caramel onto each slice of cheese and drizzle with honey.

Makes: 16

Bosc Pear Topped with Gorgonzola Dolce and Dark Roasted Mocha Caramel

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

2 Bosc pears

3 tbsp. of Gorgonzola Dolce cheese, divided

3 McCrea’s Candies Dark Roasted Mocha caramels

Directions:

Core the pear and slice into ¼-inch thick wedges. Cut each caramel in 4 slices (4 rounds). Top the pear wedge with caramel slice. Top each with 1 tsp. Gorgonzola Dolce cheese.

Makes: 12

Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt Caramel Wrapped in a Sun-dried Tomato and Rolled in Herbs de Provence and Black Pepper

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

12 sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in boiling water for 10 minutes

6 McCrea’s Candies Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt caramels

1 tsp. herbs de Provence

½ tsp. ground black pepper

Olive oil as needed

Toothpicks

Directions:

Pat tomatoes dry after soaking. Combine herbs de Provence and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Cut each caramel in half and roll between your hands to form a 2-inch long tube. Wrap sun-dried tomato around caramel length-wise. Coat each tomato with the herbs/pepper mixture. You can rub with a little olive oil first to help the herbs stick. Seal each with a toothpick and place seam side down on serving plate.

Makes: 12

Avocado Maki With Ginger Fusion Caramel Drizzle

McCrea's Candies Caramel Recipe

Ingredients:

Two trays of store-bought Avocado Maki sushi

1 tbsp. half n half

4 McCrea’s Candies Ginger Fusion Caramels (approximate)

Directions:

Place Maki on serving platter.  Put half and half and caramel in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10 second intervals, whisking in between, until smooth sauce is created. If sauce is too thin, add more caramels. If too thick, add more half and half in ½ tsp intervals. Serve immediately by drizzling over the Avocado Maki.

Makes: 8-16 depending on size amount of purchased sushi; double sauce recipe as needed.

8 Fun and Festive Easter Brunch Ideas

For us, Easter is the start of the spring and summer entertaining season. And since we love to get together, share a special meal and exchange gifts, Easter brings with it fun-filled celebrations of family, life and love.

Welcome this springtime holiday with fresh ideas and new twists on tradition.  From festive adornments to delectable, slow-cooked flourishes, this collection of Easter Sunday brunch recommendations will help you bring together those dearest to you, show you how to share a delicious meal and highlight creative ways to enjoy each other’s company.

Signature Drink

Start your guests off with a unique-to-the-occasion drink.  Try a themed concoction like a carrot mimosa or whip up a delicious grapefruit-mint Bellini. For more inspiration, Country Living has a wonderful guide to spring cocktails. Lots of under twenty-ones attending your brunch?  It’s easy to craft non-alcoholic versions of most drinks by replacing alcohol with a splash of soda.  For an added festive touch, provide Easter glass charms.  These let each guest mark his or her glass while adding an unexpected hint of holiday decor to the festivities. 

McCreas Candies Easter Gift Cocktail Caramel

Easter Eggs

An Easter brunch wouldn’t be complete without Easter eggs.  Go beyond the traditional dyed egg this year.  Woman’s Day Magazine offers some wonderfully creative Easter egg ideas, including decorating with metallic paper, real flowers, watercolors and even twine.  Whatever you choose, your Easter eggs will look lovely as a part of an Easter tablescape.

McCreas Candies Easter Gift Egg Candy  Caramel

Easter Egg Hunt

Setting up a child’s Easter egg hunt is easy. This year, add another dimension to the traditional egg hunt and invite adults to participate. With a few simple changes you can transition this children’s activity into fun for everyone. By hiding your eggs in hard-to-spot locations, implementing a time limit, turning it into a scavenger hunt/puzzle-solving adventure or switching out the traditional candy fillings with mini bottles of specialty liquor, golf balls and tees, lottery tickets, high-end sweets, and other adult favorites, you'll challenge mature guests to participate in the game. Find a complete guide to an adult level Easter egg hunt here.

Floral Arrangements

Give your celebration a fresh burst of color with a floral arrangement. Use as a centerpiece or place on your buffet to brighten your space and give your home a warm, spring-like feel. The most common flowers used in Easter bouquets include lilies, azaleas, tulips, and daises.

McCreas Candies Easter Gift Tablescape Flowers Candy

Place Cards

Easter presents a great outlet to let out your creative DIY side. Personalize your brunch with homemade place cards. From bunnies and fresh sprigs of flowers to these inspired eggshell place holders, it’s a great way to bring a touch of personality to your place settings

Easter Favors

Surprise guests with a small favor at each place setting. The best favors are personal and creative, such as McCrea’s Candies caramels. With a range of distinct flavor profiles, you can select the caramel that best suits your menu or choose a flavor unique to each guest. For scotch aficionados, try Single Malt Scotch Caramels.  The foodie guest will enjoy Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt (add some fresh rosemary sprigs to really make it festive), while the coffee lover will appreciate Dark Roasted Mocha or Café Noir.

McCrea's Candies Easter gift place setting rosemary

 

Lamb Cake

For many, the annual Easter brunch lamb cake is a time-honored tradition. Often baked in treasured, handed-down cake pans, they make for the perfect after meal dessert when served with coffee and aperitifs.  Don’t have grandma’s cherished and well-loved pan?  Find a lamb mold here.

A Good Holiday Spread

We all know the basics of Easter brunch: ham, rolls, greens, and fruit; but why limit yourself to the expected? At McCrea’s we’re all about thinking outside of the box, so here are a few of the items that we’ll be serving up in our holiday spread:

 From our family to yours, Happy Easter!

How to Pair Caramel and Cheeses for the Ultimate Dessert Platter

McCrea's Candies Caramel and Cheese

A simple dessert cheese plate makes for an easy and deliciously elegant finale to a meal.  And when you’re really trying to wow, a dessert platter pairing cheeses and caramels can be an easy-to-prepare yet mouthwatering end to a delightful home-cooked meal.

To learn how to create the perfect dessert and cheese platter, we gathered a variety of McCrea’s Candies’ caramel and headed to Boston’s North Shore and Shubie’s Market. Based in Marblehead, Shubie’s is a family-run gourmet food shop.  The bright and bustling store is filled with delicious epicurean food choices, including baked good, salads, handcrafted sandwiches and freshly-prepared foods.  The store also carries gifts, custom baskets, and a large craft beer selection.

When it opened in 1948, Shubie’s was one of the first shops in the area to carry fine wines.  The owners and staff are more than just vino experts, they are true oenophiles.  In a perfect pairing, they bring this same passion to all things cheese, making them our first choice for teaching the art of a beautiful and satisfying cheese board.  We met up with Doug Shube, owner of Shubie’s, and Rachel Lazar, the shop’s cheese platter guru.  Doug, who grew up behind the store’s cheese counter, is the third-generation of Shube’s to work at the shop.  Rachel is a classically trained chef from Johnson & Wales.

To get us started in creating the perfect cheese platter, Rachel presented a variety of trays.  We had our choice of silver salvers, china plates and, slate boards. Any of these would make for a beautiful platter; we went for the slate.  From there, Rachel brought forth a variety of scrumptious decorative elements including candied ginger, beautiful flaked sea salt, some fresh rosemary, dried apricots and a sprig or two of lavender.  All were selected with an eye to the cheese and caramel flavor combinations and were artfully arranged across the board.

McCrea's Candies Caramel and Cheese

 

Use your imagination when it comes to the accompaniments.  You can fill up the plate will all kinds of ingredients that go with cheese and caramel.  Nuts, honey, berries, fruit, chocolate, cookies, and figs are all great choices.  Pair what you like with what you love. 

Once we had placed the accouterments, cheese was added as were caramels, both wrapped and unwrapped.  According to Rachel, keeping a few caramels in the wrappers alongside the unwrapped candy enables diners to recognize each flavor and provides a topic for discussion. 

Deciding which cheeses and which caramels work best together is the fun part.  Researching pairings is great and can provide a place to start, but our favorite way to determine what to pair is by taste testing (and tasting again) before the big night.  One thing to note, diversity here is key. Rachel suggests at least one hard cheese, one soft and one specialty cheese.

McCrea's Candies Caramel and Cheese

To get you started, Rachel and Doug offer the following pairing suggestions:

    Cheeses and sweets go surprising well together and McCrea’s Candies’ caramel makes for an elegant addition to your cheese platter.

    Happy desserting!