The best caramel we’ve ever had

By Liv Combe

If you trace it all the way back, Sweet Jules Gifts really began when Jule Vranian and Hope Klocker were kids. Each Christmas, their aunt would send a box of homemade caramels to the sisters, a sweet tradition that left them vowing that one day they would make their own. That day came in 2009 when Sweet Jules Gifts was officially born.

By the time Vranian and Klocker opened Sweet Jules Gifts, the two had 50 years of restaurant experience between them—as owners, cooking instructors, and pastry chefs—not to mention the entirely separate experience that comes from growing up in a family full of chefs. Come 2009, it was a smooth entry into the world of confectionary; since then Sweet Jules’ caramels were named one of only three of Minnesota’s Top Candies in Minnesota Monthly, and Sweet Jules Gifts has been featured in nationwide publications like Martha Stewart and Real Simple.

The sisters make their caramels the old-fashioned way—in large copper pots, using only the best ingredients from around the world. These chewy wonders are made in small batches, with personal attention paid to each and every one. Sweet Jules has rolled out eight signature flavors, from vanilla bean—a classic, to Jule’s favorite—Jules of Paris, a rich, Swiss dark chocolate caramel topped with French sea salt. You know the adage that there’s something for everyone? Well, it’s really true.

Tasty tidbits
  • Sweet Jules’ fall seasonal favorite is their Farm Apple Spice caramels, made from Klocker’s own hand-pressed Minnesota heritage apples and crowned with fresh spices.
  • Sweet Jules uses the best butter and cream, and only cane sugar in their caramels. There are never any stabilizers or additives.
  • “I only eat Sweet Jules’ caramels when I am happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I eat them when I’m alone. When I am with friends, I consider eating them obligatory. I trifle with them if I’m not in a hurry, and eat them when I am. Otherwise, I never touch them unless I’m hungry. ”–Jeremiah Tower, chef and James Beard Foundation Award winner

Sweet Jules Chocolate Caramel Cookies

makes about 27 cookies

5 oz (about 10 caramels) of Sicilian Orange, Classic Vanilla Bean, Cafe Italiano, and Fleur de Sel caramels, chopped and frozen ahead of time
5 oz butter
¾ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup + 1 Tablespoon cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ + ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon French sea salt
1-¼ cup chocolate chips
1 cup toasted and salted pecans

1. Chop 5 oz (about 10 caramels) of Sicilian Orange, Classic Vanilla Bean, Cafe Italiano, and Fleur de Sel caramels. Freeze ahead of time.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just incorporated.

4. Add chocolate chips, pecans, and caramels and blend until just mixed. Scoop and let chill for 1 to 2 hours or overnight, to incorporate flavors. Bake chilled or frozen on a nonstick baking pad. When they come out of the oven, quickly reshape the caramel bits with the edge of a knife.