Delicious little candies. I still remember spending my allowance on all the Rock Candies or Fun Dips or Jolly Ranchers I could hold in both hands–or God forbid I have a baseball game that evening and was out of my Big League Chew Bubblegum or remember that one time Dad had eaten all my Neccos? Or perhaps it was me that ate all his… 😉 Candy was definitely a central to my life as a child–yes of course my parents kept it in moderation, but they seemed to trust me from a young age to learn how to make the decisions of “how much is too much” on my own, and looking back, I am grateful as it’s helped me create a balanced relationship with sweets into my adulthood. I’ve always maintained a love for the occasional gumdrop or lollipop–so I’m obviously very excited to attend Feast this year as Jami of QUIN Candy will be hosting a hands on class (sold out!) to help us harness that favorite candy memory.
If you were one of the lucky ones to get your hands on Jami Curl’s QUIN Candy Class on Saturday, September 16th from 1pm-3pm, you are in for a treat! This hands on class to create a candy from scratch! I had the pleasure of discussing the course with Jami as well as the opportunity to ask her questions about her practice.
First, a little about QUIN – started in 2013 by Jami Curl, QUIN Candy is a company founded on using top notch ingredients. In every sucker, Dreams Come Chew, etc. you’re going to find local fruit (like Oregon berries!), or in the caramels you might find coffee syrup derived from locally roasted coffee beans. They only use pure granulated cane sugar and GMO-free glucose and real dairy (no powdered stuff!). This makes for chocolate mix that melts to the touch, suckers with delectable real berry tartness, and caramels that linger on your palate, tempting you to eat just one more. All QUIN Candy products are made by hand locally and can be found online as well as all over the city–from specialty shops to their own retail store located at Union Way in downtown.
I’ve been enamored with QUIN Candy‘s candies since mid-2014 when I had my first candy of theirs, a scrumptious little bag of caramels, which I found out recently was Jami’s very first featured candy item at QUIN–and here I had assumed she perfected the Dreams Come Chew (think somewhat starburst-y but on steroids) first! I was so excited to talk a little candy with Jami and I found her answers so insightful, I thought it best to share things with you directly from her!
Where did the name company’s name, QUIN, come from?
A QUIN is a type of sprinkle – the little flat pastel rounds that kind of look like tiny necco wafers.
Before I started QUIN I had a bakery for many years and used a lot of those sprinkles. QUIN as a name was a way to connect the two loves of my life at the time.
What’s your personal favorite candy QUIN makes?
I love everything equally but have weeks where one thing or another rises to the top. Right now I am eating a ton of our new Christmas caramels – they are caramels that we’ve made to taste like marshmallows. We have three flavors – one plain marshmallow, one chocolate marshmallow, and one coconut marshmallow – the coconut is the one I wish I’d brought home with me at night.
How have you seen the candy industry change since you’ve entered it?
Thankfully we are not a typical candy manufacturer and are still very much outliers when it comes to the industry.
That said, something that is very noticeable, even from a consumer standpoint, is that manufacturers are looking for ways to turn candy into “snacks”. The snack food segment is the fastest growing segment in food in the US. More and more Americans are turning to snacking throughout the day instead of regular meals. Big candy has caught on and now you see “snackable” marshmallows and other candies that are made without individually wrapped pieces – this is all to encourage us to see candy as a snack (vs. what it really is which is CANDY).
How do you think QUIN has influenced the candy market—either regionally or nationally?
I think we’ve shined a real light on the use of high quality ingredients in non-chocolate candy.
It’s super easy to make candy with crappy/artificial ingredients. But it’s incredibly expensive and difficult to make it on a mass scale using high quality, real food ingredients.
What’s something that surprised you since starting QUIN production?
Everything is more difficult and more expensive than you plan. Everything. Every time. It’s hard work made harder by always having to plan for the unexpected – supplier price increases, delivery schedules, customers not paying on time – the REAL business ins/outs of doing this. All surprising, every day. Yet it’s still fun. Most of the time!
Your chocolate dust has always hands down been my favorite, and so I understandably always have at least one jar in my house—how do you like to use it at home?
I do mix the dust with a little boiling water to create a chocolate syrup, then I store that syrup in a squeeze bottle in my fridge – then I use that syrup to make chocolate milk each morning.
How do you prefer to make your cocoa with the chocolate dust?
My milk of choice for hot chocolate is whole milk, and I like 2 tablespoons of dust to 8 ounces of milk that I’ve allowed to reduce a tiny bit on the stove. I like vanilla bean marshmallows on top (when I have them), but am generally just fine having it plain!
Are there any candy cardinal sins in your opinion? What is/are they?
There are so many. My entire life in candy is built around unbreakable rules. You have to be that way because candy isn’t a craft with grey area. It’s black and white. It works or it doesn’t. And we know why things work, so we stick to the rules of what makes things work. For home candy making I always tell people to never put warm candy in the refrigerator and to never stir a pot of candy that’s cooking.
What’s on the horizon for QUIN?
We’re looking forward to the holiday season. It’s something we start working on a minimum of six months ahead, so around this time of year I am always thinking WHY CAN’T CHRISTMAS JUST GET HERE. We are our busiest, of course, during the holidays. I’m traveling to Charleston in March for the Charleston Wine + Food festival where I’ll be teaching a class that covers baking and candy making. I’m super excited about that. And QUIN has a book now that I wrote, so I have lots of upcoming travel around that – always exciting. (Get Jami’s book, Candy is Magic via Amazon Here.) But in general this time of year we just come to work every day and do the work – trying to get that Christmas candy ready!
I know you’re doing a survey for QUIN class attendees—how are the responses stacking up for how you will shape the class? Are you open to sharing a little about the class direction you’re planning?
We’re going to make candy at the class, but first we’re going to talk about the IDEA of candy and how to generate creative ideas in general (for more than just candy). I am continually seeing people turn to the internet for “ideas”, and I never do that – so we’re going to basically talk about how to think of new things in old ways – before you could create a pinterest board or read a blog. The surveys are a precursor to that idea development. I’m taking the answers and compiling them all then making a candy inspired by the responses. Then I’ll teach that exact candy at the class.
What’s the most interesting application of your candy that you’ve seen to date? (Use in a savory dish, a wedding cake topped with it, etc.)?
I did a pop up at a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco and made toasted rice tea ice cream and topped it with whiskey barrel aged soy sauce caramel – then I crushed our tangerine sparkling candy into “sprinkles” and showered them over the top of the sundaes. I’m not sure if that’s the most interesting use of the candy, but it’s certainly been my favorite of what I’ve seen!
You can follow Jami and her sweet creations on Instagram @QUINcandy.
Are you still hoping to attend FEAST?! There’s still time! You can enter to win tickets via their partnership with Williams Sonoma or purchase tickets to some of the remaining events! Click on the images for more info!