Sugar High! Goat's Milk Caramels From Big Picture Farm | Bite Club

Sugar High! Goat's Milk Caramels From Big Picture Farm


Ginger and Junebug, Big Picture Farm goats - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Ginger and Junebug, Big Picture Farm goats

A few weeks ago I took a trip to Big Picture Farm in Townshend. There I met owners Louisa Conrad and Lucas Farrell, as well as their 30-plus goats. 

Conrad had sent a box of caramels to Seven Days that caught my attention. The goat's milk caramels came in creative flavors including wild coconut mint and brown-butter bourbon. Our box contained maple cream, sea salt and vanilla, cocoa-latte, and chai. The chai was intense — just like drinking a chai latte — and its flavor lingered on the palate. The maple cream version was delightfully light.

Louisa Conrad - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Louisa Conrad
Conrad and Farrell started Big Picture Farm in 2010. During a small portion of the year they make cheese — just enough to sell to a few local outlets. Mostly they make caramels. These sweets are made in batches of 700 several times a day.

During the busy season, even that isn't always enough. At times, Conrad said, she has to add a graveyard staff to keep up with demand. Currently the goat's milk caramels sell at some 600 locations across the country. 

Conrad took about a year to develop her recipes for the chewy candies. Working with whole milk is tricky, as it's more delicate than heavy cream. "You have to cook it longer to boil off the water and, as a result, watch it much more carefully," she explained.

This also affects the flavors the candy makers can work with. "[The milk] has a tendency to want to curdle,"  Conrad noted. "We had to limit certain other ingredients we wanted to add to prevent this." 
Chai, maple cream, sea salt and vanilla, and cocoa-latte caramels - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Chai, maple cream, sea salt and vanilla, and cocoa-latte caramels
The flavors are focused on seasonal and local. "We gather our own sap for our maple caramel, and it is boiled down the hill at Plummer's Sugar House," Conrad said.

For her raspberry-rhubarb and cider-honey caramels, she uses wine from Putney Mountain Winery. The cocoa-latte caramels are made with coffee from Brattleboro's Mocha Joe's Roasting Co. And the chai flavoring is provided by Chai Wallah of Guilford. 

Scout playing with an egg shell - MELISSA HASKIN
  • Melissa Haskin
  • Scout playing with an egg shell
Why does Conrad work with goats?

"Why not goats?" she said. "Goats are the very, very, very best."

After meeting them, I had to agree. The friendly creatures nuzzled my leg, nearly knocking me over as Conrad introduced them. "They are our friends," she said. "We do what we do for them."

Big Picture Farm caramels are available in a variety of packages and prices (a 3.2-ounce Farm Box is $10) from its website, and at retail outlets including Healthy Living Market & Café in South Burlington, The Store in Waitsfield and Pete's Greens Waterbury Farm Market.

Sugar High! is a weekly exploration into the Vermont dessert scene. It features everything from chefs to recipe tips to the best sweets on Vermont menus. Got an idea for something you'd like to see in Sugar High? Email [email protected].

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