As children in Laramie nestle snug in their beds and visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, Serendipity Confections’ chief candy cook packs another batch of holiday caramels flavored with gingerbread.
The holidays are a hectic time around the candy shop, Serendipity Confections owner Rebecca Cassity said. But even as her company rolls out the holiday flavors and switches over to more festive packaging, Cassity said she is ready to take the company to new heights.
“Our next big goal is really to expand beyond making caramels,” she said. “We’re shooting to have a new line of products on the shelves in the next six months.”
The move is a no small leap for the confectionary, which has focused on perfecting caramels with natural ingredients at high elevations for the last decade, but Cassity said with the market demand growing in recent years, her business was ready to expand.
“We have a fairly good following,” she said. “We have some stores that have carried our products for about eight years.”
While she remained tightlipped on what the new products might be, Cassity said Laramie residents could keep an eye out for them at Poppy’s Flowers & Boutique, 119 Grand Ave., Big Hollow Food Co-op, 119 S. First St., and The Chocolate Cellar, 113 Ivinson Ave.
Cassity started Serendipity Confections in 2008 after her mother-in-law, who owns The Chocolate Cellar, jokingly challenged her to make a worthy caramel.
“We started it in Denver, where we were living at the time,” she said. “My husband’s mother came down to Denver to have dinner one night and mentioned she was having problems finding a good caramel to carry in her store.”
Although Cassity worked in publishing at the time, she said she enjoyed cooking and decided to give making caramel a try.
“It took a couple tries, and the first couple were kind of a disaster,” Cassity said. “But then we came up with a recipe that we liked pretty good, and she and her husband liked them, too.”
The only hitch in the plan was everyone else liked the caramels as well, and the candies sold quicker than expected. It wasn’t long before Cassity and her husband, Russ Anderson, needed more space to fill the orders.
Opening shop in a small Denver storefront, they grew their business to the point of needing to leave their other jobs to make caramels full time in 2013. A year later, they decided to expand their business and move to Laramie, where they both grew up.
“Making caramel is something that’s easy to start small,” Cassity said. “But it’s fairly competitive.”
With a foothold in the candy market, the couple hired two part-time employees and started making their treats in bulk for wholesale. Nowadays, Cassity estimates Serendipity Confections makes about 12,000 pounds of caramel a year and ships their products to about 100 stores in about 25 states across the nation.
“Our caramels are also available at a store in Canada,” she said. “But shipping internationally is a pain, and our products don’t do to well if they sit in a hot environment for too long.”
After buttoning down sales and the cooking process, the couple started adding flavors. They currently offer eight including sea salt, butter, chili and chai with chocolate peppermint and ginger bread recently added as holiday specials.
“Our caramels are a little different than other caramels in that they use more cream,” Cassity said. “My husband is our chief candy cook.”
Fans of the typical bricklike caramels bought in bulk and used to fill crystal candy dishes around the world might find Serendipity Confection’s treats a little richer, softer and traditional tasting, she said.
After a decade of making caramel, Cassity said she isn’t burned out on the treat, but she is more selective about what she eats.
“I can appreciate a really well done caramel,” she said. “But I’m not interested in searching for it, because there are a lot of bad ones out there.”
Looking back, Cassity said she and her husband discovered there was more science to creating delectable treats than they anticipated starting out.
“The process of cooking caramel is you’re cooking the moisture out of it, so elevation and environment play big roles,” she said. “Caramel is a pretty tricky one, you have to cook it at just the right temperature.”
A wry smile crossed Cassity’s lips and she let out a hearty laugh when asked what temperature she uses to cook the caramels.
“I’ll never tell,” she said.