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!

    Valentine’s Day Gifts for the Scotch Lover in Your Life

    caramel Valentine's Day McCrea's candies

     

    At McCrea’s we know scotch. We searched high and low for the best high quality scotch to add to our award-winning caramel, making us something of an expert on the subject. In fact, we’ve been known to raise a toast (slàinte!) to this fine beverage every now and then. It’s this passion for scotch that makes creating the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift list for the scotch lover in your life a piece of cake…or should we say piece of caramel.

    From fun accouterments to treats that have been infused with the rich drink, this collection of gifts is sure to please any whisky aficionado.

    Novel Ice Molds

    Sometimes a good scotch is enjoyed best on the rocks, so why not elevate your ice game to match that of your high-class beverage of choice? There are multiple companies out there that craft everything from stunning to strange ice molds. For the classically inclined scotch condenser, you could go with a globe or koi fish mold. Or, if your loved one is more in tune with pop culture, you can opt for a Tardis or Han Solo mold. The choices are nearly endless.

    The Corkcicle Cigar Glass

    If your scotch lover enjoys a nice cigar along with his or her drink, then the Corkcicle Cigar Glass is just what you need. Part rocks glass and part cigar rest, the Corkcicle makes for an unexpected gift. The glass, which can be personalized with a single initial for an elegant touch, is sure to spark conversation in any setting.

    Personalized Whiskey Barrel Oak Wood Cufflinks

    Enable your whiskey enthusiast to proclaim his love of the drink wherever he goes. Subtle yet stylish and made to order, these Whiskey Barrel Oak Wood Cufflinks will accentuate your loved one’s style whether he’s all business or out for a night on the town. Each cufflink set is made to order and can be engraved with his initials. Because no two sets of cufflinks are the same, this gift makes the perfect addition to any scotch lover’s wardrobe.

    Teroforma Original Whisky Stones

    A scotch on the rocks is a time-honored tradition and the use of whisky stones can elevate this classic approach to imbibing single-malts. They can lower the liquor’s temperature, while preserving that delicious straight-from-the-bottle taste. Teroforma Original Whisky Stones are made from soapstone sourced at the country’s oldest mill. Take in both a chilled scotch and some history with these cutting-edge stones.

    The Survey of Scotch Print

    Paying homage to the origin of scotch, this specialized print illustrates Scotland and the distilleries that reside in each region; from Highlands to Lowlands and beyond. It makes the perfect addition to any home or office. Your whisky devotee will be able to find where favorite blends hail from while perusing a list of single malts and full-bodied blends. This piece of art will be the pièce de résistance for any scotch love’s art collection.

    Sheridan Personalized Scotch Glasses

    The finest of drinks deserves the finest of glasses. Made from premium glass, these 11 oz glasses can be engraved with your family’s initials and last name. With a signature rock-like finish to the underlying glass within the base, they make for a dignified and eye-catching drinking companion. We’ll raise a glass to that!

    Single Malt Scotch Caramels

    If your scotch lover has a serious sweet tooth then we have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for you; McCrea’s Candies Single Malt Scotch Caramels. For the perfect combination of mouth-watering caramel and decadent single malt scotch, we slow cook our caramels for hours while gradually infusing the blend with premium single malt scotch. Your scotch aficionado is sure to smile when trying these delectable and intoxicating scotch flavored caramels. Start with just one pack or opt for a monthly subscription, the choice is yours.

    Scotch Tasting Chart Print

    From novices to experts, any scotch lover can benefit from having a tasting guide on hand. This unconventional work of art guides scotch lovers through over 80 different flavor profiles. Smokey, rich, light, or delicate; learn how to identify any scotch based on taste alone with this functional piece of art.

    Find the Perfect Valentine's Day Gift With McCrea's

    Whether your scotch lover is a beginner or master, any of the gifts listed above will be well received this Valentine's Day. The pleasure and luxury of a thoughtful scotch-inspired gift doesn’t have to stop with Valentine’s Day. With one of our prepaid subscription boxes, you can have our handcrafted caramels delivered to your scotch lover every month.  A gift from the heart is a gift that anyone will love. Happy Valentine’s Day from McCrea's.

    The 6 Best Secret Santa Gift Ideas

    The holidays are here! And if your team is anything like ours, you’re all gearing up to spread some holiday cheer within your office. From decking the halls to holiday office parties, celebrating the holidays with your close, or at least close-ish, work-family is an important part of ringing in the new year.

    Each year, secret Santa games start in offices around the world and coworkers struggle to find meaningful gifts to give one another. You can only give someone a coffee cup so many times. No one wants a Clark Griswold situation happening in their office, so you're going to need some unique secret Santa gift ideas to get you through the holiday season. But what’s the best gift to give? What’s something that your coworkers will enjoy but is within your budget? And how on earth are you suppose to find a gift for that one coworker that you know absolutely nothing about?

    In our opinion, the best gift you can give to someone in your office is a foodie-centric present. What’s better than a gourmet edible gift? They come beautifully packaged, making wrapping a cinch, if you even need it. Plus, these items will give your coworker immense satisfaction without putting pressure on them to demonstrate their appreciation of the gift year-round. An edible gift is a one and done deal. They’ll say thank you, and they won’t have to keep it on their desk year-round or wear it to the office later that year to prove that “they really did love it!”

    At McCrea’s Candies we’re all about out of the box gifting, from our own unique caramels to other small business goods. Plus when you support small business with a purchase this holiday season, you help your local community and the small business community at large. This year, say no to big box store cookie cutter secret Santa gifts, and say yes to thoughtful gourmet presents! 

    Ben’s Sugar Shack Maple Syrup

    If your coworker’s favorite meal of the day of breakfast then you need to check out this Bens maple syruporiginal sweet treat. Ben’s Sugar Shack has been collecting syrup and crafting delicious concoctions for years. What started as a childhood obsession bloomed into a full-time business endeavor for this hard-working New Hampshire man. We recommend the Maple Syrup in 8.45 oz. Leaf Marasca Bottle. Not only does it taste great, but the syrup is available in three grades so that you can select the formula that best fits your coworker’s tastes. 

    Lark Fine Foods Holiday Cookies

    Who doesn’t like holiday cookies, or even better, gourmet holiday cookies? Lark Fineholiday trio Foods is a 100% female owner bakery that was founded in 2008 in Boston inside the historic town of Essex. The Holiday Trio box set contains some of their most scrumptious holiday flavors, including Salted Rosemary, Burnt Sugar, and Espresso Chip. Each box comes packaged in an eye-catching gift box complete with grosgrain ribbon. Give the gift of shortbread for a very merry holiday indeed.

    Lake Champlain Chocolates

    The Holiday & Christmas Chocolate Truffles set from Lake Champlain Chocolates will make anyone’s taste buds sing for joy. These fresh, all natural chocolates from Vermont come packaged in a stylish holiday box. Each box contains five assorted milk and dark chocolate truffles including cappuccino, dark rum, hazelnut, legendary dark, and raspberry flavors. If you wish to give the gift of effortless elegance, then specialty chocolate is the way to go.

    Cucina Aurora Infused Olive Oil 

    For some, savory tastes outway sweets, and for those more discerning coworkers, a gift olive oilthat takes savory textures and flavors to the next level is a must. For these particular coworkers, we recommend infused olive oils, our favorite being the Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil from Cucina Aurora Kitchen and Witchery. Don’t let this name spook you; this potent oil has the dual purpose of tasing amazing while simultaneously warding off harm. The perfect conversation starter, this secret Santa gift will be the talk of your office for weeks to come.

    Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract

    Does your coworker enjoy cooking, or are they a true foodie? If so, the thought of giving madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extractthem a premade food gift can be a little daunting. For these chic condensers, we recommend skipping whole foods altogether and moving on to the spice realm, more specifically Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. The very name of this product is exotic and romantic in a way that will capture the attention of even your most highfalutin peer’s attention. Nielsen Massey specializes in crafting singularly out of this world vanillas and flavors. What better gift than one that your coworker can use over and over again while enjoying their meal prep rituals. Each bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract is created from premium, hand-selected beans cultivated in Madagascar. If that doesn’t grab your foodie’s attention then nothing will.

    McCrea’s Candies Single Malt Scotch Caramels 

    mccrea's candiesHave a coworker who craves the best? One who loves his sweets and his single malts? You know that they appreciate a quality scotch, so the solution is easy, McCrea's Single Malt Scotch Caramels. Our spirited caramels are one of those items that will bring a smile to anyone’s face, especially the office whiskey aficionado. We’ve taken the art of caramel making to a whole new level. These intoxicating delicacies provide the smooth, luxurious goodness of aged single malt scotch without the hangover! What’s not to love?

    Finding Your Perfect Secret Santa Gift With McCrea's Candies 

    Whether you’re searching for business gifts or a secret Santa gift for your boss, find all that you need and more with McCrea’s. Still not sure what to get for the secret Santa coworker on your list? You could try some of our other favorite secret Santa gifts that include Prosperity Candle’s Café Candle, Soluna Garden Farms teas, Qs Nuts, Coops MicroCreamery caramel sauce (which we help to create), jam from Dove and Figs, unique tea mugs from Fishcakes, or Wicked Joe Coffee. And if you’re still not sure, you can always try a McCrea’s Candies gift box or party box of your choice, that way they’ll receive a variety of mouth-watering treats, and you can complete your entire purchase in one fell swoop. From our family to yours, happy holidays, and best of luck with your shopping!

    McCrea’s Candies Adds New Flavor and Introduces Soirée-Sized Party Box

     

    Award-Winning Caramel Maker Also Announces

    Dedicated Business Gifting Initiative

    June 24, 2017 -- McCrea’s Candies today introduced an Anisette caramel to its line of award-winning, handcrafted luxe candies, as well as a new soirée-sized party box perfect for intimate gatherings and smaller get togethers.  Additionally, the company announced an expanded focus on the business gifting marketplace with a newly-appointed Caramel Concierge.

    Anisette joins McCrea’s fourteen other evocatively-flavored caramels and rounds out the assortment of liquor-infused sweet treats offered by the Boston-based caramel maker, which also includes Single Malt Scotch and Irish Coffee.  The new flavor is delicately spirited with notes of anisette, giving the caramel an aromatic and distinctive bite.

    “When we decided to add a new flavor, it seemed natural to expand our spirited offerings with Anisette,“ said Co-Founder Jason McCrea.  “We’ve perfected the caramel so that it provides the perfect balance of spicy and sweet.  It’s luxuriously smooth with just the right amount of licorice.”

    The Anisette caramel is joined by a new soirée-sized Party Box.  Weighing 12 ounces and filled with approximately 10 pieces each of four caramel flavors, the smaller box is half the size of the company’s best-selling Party Box, making it ideal for family functions, cozy celebrations, and office parties.

    “We are debuting the new smaller box with our customers in mind.  As a maker of fine caramel that is often chosen by our customers as a gift for family and friends, and by all sizes of companies for their business gifting needs, it’s important to create options that fit every occasion.” said Kate McCrea, cofounder of McCrea’s Candies.

    It is that same dedication to the customer that prompted McCrea’s to expand its focus on the business gifting market. McCrea’s hired Caramel Concierge, Julie Ayotte, to lead the initiative.  Fresh from seven years at Dancing Deer Baking Co., where she headed the company’s corporate gift program, Ayotte brings 25 years of experience in the hospitality and gifting space.  She will focus on corporate clients, assisting them with holiday gifts, incentive and reward programs, thank you/referral gifts, and prospecting campaigns.

    McCrea’s Candies uses the finest salts, spirits, and seasonings to produce evocatively-flavored handcrafted luxe caramel candies in beautiful biodegradable packaging. The company starts with the best butter and sugar and slow cooks it to just the right temperature. Milk from the local dairy is added as are real-food flavorings.  From there, McCrea’s handrolls the caramel and sends it through a restored early 20th century cutting and wrapping machine. McCrea’s quest: find perfect combinations of smooth, sweet, fresh, and unexpected using the fewest possible ingredients. Its mission: make the world's best caramel.

    McCrea’s Candies Named an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 Semifinalist in New England

     

    EY and McCrea’s Candies today announced that Jason McCrea and Kate McCrea, co-owners of McCrea’s Candies, are semifinalists for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 Award in the New England program.

    The awards program, which is celebrating its thirtieth year, recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.  McCrea’s Candies was selected as a semifinalist by a panel of independent judges. Award winners will be announced at a special gala event on June 23, 2016 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.

    “We are honored and grateful to be considered for this prestigious award,” said Kate McCrea. “This has been a seminal year for McCrea’s Candies.   The nomination is a testament to the people that make up the McCrea’s team, their passion, hard work and dedication. It showcases how small businesses can achieve great things. We are truly privileged to be included in this group of visionary entrepreneurs.”

    Now in its thirtieth year, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 145 cities in more than sixty countries throughout the world.

    Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 19, 2016. The awards are the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.

    Sponsors

    Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored by SAP America, Merrill Corporation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

    In New England, sponsors also include fama PR, Goodwin Procter, the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Nixon Peabody, True, Chatham Financial, Empire Valuation, Morgan Lewis, and T3 Advisors.

    About McCrea’s Candies

    McCrea’s Candies was founded by husband-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea. Building upon backgrounds in biology and chemistry, the McCrea’s transitioned into the sweet science of candy making after double layoffs. Started in a home kitchen, McCrea’s Candies now offers a full line of mouthwatering caramels to retail outlets throughout North America.

    Recently selected by Martha Stewart as an American Made finalist, by USA Todaas a Best Gift For Foodies and by People Magazine for inclusion in the publication’s gala gift bags, McCrea's is also a Good Foods award winner, a distinguished national award for food crafters who make food products that taste delicious and are made from responsibly sourced ingredients.

    The hallmark of the McCrea’s Candies line is its use of striking and original seasonings in its caramel candies. McCrea’s flagship product features Hawaiian black lava sea salt swirled into caramel to provide a salty-sweet mouthful. Additional flavor combinations include Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Ginger Fusion, Curried Butternut, and Basil Cayenne. McCrea’s also offers such classic flavors as vanilla, scotch, chocolate, maple, mocha, and coffee.

    About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®

    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than sixty countries.

    About EY’s Strategic Growth Markets practice

    EY’s Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice guides leading high-growth companies. Our multidisciplinary teams of elite professionals provide perspective and advice to help our clients accelerate market leadership. SGM delivers assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services to thousands of companies spanning all industries. EY is the undisputed leader in taking companies public, advising key government agencies on the issues impacting high-growth companies and convening the experts who shape the business climate. 

    About EY

    EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.