About this time each October, candy takes the spotlight. And as much as we love our ’80s and ’90s store-bought classics, we’re reaching way back to true classics like caramel apples and homemade truffles to satisfy our sweet-toothes without the chemical overload.
Recently, we’ve become obsessed with Quin Candy of Portland, Oregon. Their handmade process and “real food” ingredients have us hooked. We’ve even tucked a few of their smoky caramels into this month’s The Shop! When we found out that one of our pals – and original TCM contributors – Sarah Simms Hendrix of La Femme Epicure was BFF with Quin founder, Jami Curl, we asked the duo to chat with us and share these instructions for the brand new Quin Caramel Apple Party Kit. Enjoy as these two chat below, get the instructions, then buy the kit – or win it in today’s Instagram contest that will make you drool! Here’s Sarah and Jami…
The lady behind the confectionery dream that is Quin, Jami Curl, is a baker turned full-time candy maker based in Portland, Oregon. To know her is to completely love her. This woman is pure magic, just like her candy. Back in May of this year, Fast Company named Jami one of the 100 most creative people of 2014 (#NBD). Needless to say, she’s pretty much taking over the world, one gumdrop at a time. I feel lucky to call her a friend and today I get to introduce her to all of you fabulous Chalkboard readers.
la femme epicure: Jami, first off, tell us where do you draw inspiration from.
Jami Curl: Nearly everywhere, but childhood memories definitely come in first place. For example: I am putting the finishing touches on a Cinnamon Milk chewy candy that is inspired by my need/desire (god, which is it?) as a kid to plop Atomic Fireballs into a glass of milk, stir it around and then enjoy the cinnamon-milky goodness. I remember specifically doing this after school on Valentine’s Day – hot cinnamon candies were super popular in our old-school handmade Valentine mailboxes!
LFE: What is your favorite Quin Candy of the moment?
JC: Twizzlie Rolls for life.
LFE: Where is your favorite place to eat out in Portland?
JC: With my kid (who is seven and is the love of my life and is dressing up as Willy Wonka for Halloween) I go to Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty – it’s nearly half pizza/half ice cream and I love it so much (and so does he). When it’s just me and the ladies and we want a glass of sparkling rose paired with a big bowl of mussels or the perfect plate of cheese, I head to St. Jack. That said, for being a candy maker, I have a real thing for vegetables. 100% of the time I’d pick a vegetable dish over any meat dish. And for perfect veggies I head to Ava Gene’s. (That’s three because just one is too hard and was causing me to sweat a little bit!)
LFE: What are some current favorites on your music playlist?
JC: I’m in a real Beyonce-Jay Z rut because I have agreed to attend a karaoke Halloween party as Jay Z himself. (Yes, I am a white girl from Ohio.) I have been studying all of Jay Z’s moves in hopes that I can really BE him for at least a 4 minute song (if only you knew me in person you’d know how hilarious this is going to be.) Of the Beyonce / Jay Z collaborations I love 03′ Bonnie & Clyde and Upgrade U the most. In addition to B and J, my rotating playlist includes: Radiohead, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Martha Wainwright (she is my spirit animal), Sam Smith, Justin Timberlake and a dash of Van Halen.
LFE: What is your go-to order at your local coffee shop?
JC: Coffee with half and half. I am a gigantic believer in full-fat dairy.
TCM: What other makers are you currently crushing on?
JC: Marshall’s Haute Sauce, Starvation Alley cranberries, Mike’s Hot Honey, Red Wagon Creamery ice cream, H&H Collective linen napkins, Wylie West Creative (party everything), Clare Crespo’s new Hurray Today calendar, and Hilary Horvath flowers.
TCM: Since we are making caramel apples, what is your favorite apple variety?
JC: Belle de Boskoop. It’s a Dutch apple from 1800s. They grow quite large and no two of the apples ever look alike in color or in shape. They are sweet with just the right amount of acid, bake well, make great sauce and are the ideal snack. I currently eat at least three a day (because they are in season and I know a farmer who grows them!).
TCM: Who are some of your favorite instagrammers to follow?
JC: I really love Julia Kramer – she works for Bon Appetit and is really funny – plus food. I also really love Elizabeth Olson’s Instagram (@white_lightning) because she’s also hilarious, but has an eye for design that is just so good. Also I really love Jeff Selis’ Instagram (@selis) – he’s a dad, super creative and he has this gaggle of kids that are beautiful, but also always in some sort of trouble. He captures them at just the right moments – whether it’s laughing or crying or giving the ultimate stink eye.
LFE: What do we have to look forward to when it comes to this upcoming holiday season and Quin?
JC: We are doing a collection of orchard and bog gumdrops – apple, pear and cranberry. All using real fruit and all especially tied to the season. It’s the first time we’ve used the more wintery fruits in our candies and I’m super excited. There’s also the Caramel Apple Party, which apparently you’ve got your hands on…
LFE: Yes, the Caramel Apple Party. It’s a thing. Here we are half way through October with apples in peak season and the only thing missing from life is the perfect caramel to dip them in.These small batch caramels made with fresh cream, European butter, real vanilla bean, and Oregon sea salt are a serious game-changer: all natural and made with with the very best ingredients you can find. I got my hands on the kit and it came with all the tools (caramels, wood sticks, cellophane bags and baker’s twine) to make delicious caramel apples at home – just add the apples of your choice. Here’s how I made them…
Quin Caramel Apples
Quin Caramel Apple Party Kit (the best caramels ever, wood sticks, cellophane bags and baker’s twine)
apples of your choice (Quin loves Belle de Boskoop apples)
1) Insert wooden sticks into stem end of each (washed and entirely dry) apple.
2) Unwrap the caramel slabs and place them in a small saucepan set over low heat. Slowly melt the caramel until it is smooth, stirring often. (Note: Do not allow the caramel to boil.)
3) Dip each apple into the caramel and use a spoon to ease the caramel over any naked spots – allowing the excess caramel to drip off back into the saucepan.
4) Place the finished apples on a sheet of wax paper until set. Slide each apple into a cellophane bag and secure with a piece of baker’s twine.
Win A Quin Caramel Apple Kit!
Enter to win a Quin Caramel Apple Kit of your own! Here’s how: Follow @thechalkboardmag + @sprinklefingers on Instagram. Use the hashtag #TCMquincandy to share your fave healthy Halloween treat with us, and Quin founder, Jami will pick her fave to win their very own kit!
Open to continental U.S. readers only. Giveaway closes Friday, 10/17 at 5pm P.S.T.