What do you get when you put together sugar, cream, glucose syrup and a bit of flavouring? Well if you do it right, you can create delicious soft chewy caramels. On my last trip to Stockholm I discovered Parlans Konfektyr, and so when I knew I was going to be in Stockholm again, I contacted them to see whether I could take a little peek behind the scenes of this delicious old skool candy shop.
Sandra, the store manager, was very happy to have me in exchange for wrapping some caramels, which you might think is a simple thing to do but let me tell you after “trying” to wrap a dozen or so, it ain’t as easy as it looks. My wrapping skills were no where close to the staff average of around 250 caramels an hour. They even have bit of competition with a top five list of fastest staff on the wall.
This little caramel factory used to be an old bakery (the bakery was there since 1938) and now instead of kanelbulle (although they make a few baked treats to eat in the shop), they make 10 different types of caramels. In 2010 they first set up shop in a restaurant in Östermalm before moving to this bakery in November 2011.
Roughly 50kg of sugar (much more during Christmas) gets transformed into 125kg worth of caramels a week. 10 different flavours are currently made: Chocolate & cocoa nibs, lemon & vanilla, fresh raspberry, classic vanilla, almond & vanilla, passionfruit, peppermint & polka (Swedish peppermint candy), salty licorice, blackberry and vanilla & sea salt.
The bestsellers are licorice and vanilla & sea salt. They have 6 or 7 flavours which they are always make plus a couple that are seasonal: passionfruit, blackberry and raspberry are the flavours of the moment.
Producing the caramels is a bit of a labour of love as everything is still done by hand (no high tech machines here). I know from making soft caramels myself that ingredients have to be carefully weighed and cooked to the perfect temperature.
Getting the caramels to set to the perfect consistency is a bit of a science. Too hard or too soft caramels just won’t do. The caramels that don’t make the cut get melted down and made into a delicious sauce instead.
Once the caramels are perfectly set they are cut by hand and also tasted for quality control purposes (that’s my excuse for tasting everything) to make sure the flavours are consistent.
Before the candies make their way to the shop floor they need to be wrapped. My wrapping skills not being so great I got put on stamping duties. Each wrapper is individually stamped with the brand name and caramel type (talk about taking handmade to an extreme!).
And so my sweet adventure ended with a well-earned break: a cup of coffee and a caramel (or two).
Parlans Konfektyr Nytorgsgatan 38, 116 40 Stockholm