The parking lot of a Mahopac mini-mall is not the first place you’d expect great caramel creation to begin—but you’d likely change your mind were you out at 6:45 a.m. on a Tuesday. The lot is where Michèle Kim, owner of La Petite Occasion, meets a Hudson Valley Fresh truck for a heavy-cream delivery before heading to her production kitchen in Chappaqua. As Kim likes to say: “It’s less than 48 hours from cow to caramel.”
Once on-site, that cream gets mixed with butter and other locally sourced ingredients before being made, entirely by hand, into fantastic soft caramels. It’s a very labor-intensive process, mixing and cooking the ingredients, pouring them into trays, scoring, cutting, and finally wrapping each one.
There are the bestsellers: a buttery vanilla that will remind you of your childhood; rich dark or milk chocolate, both sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt; and a bacon, bourbon, and maple combo. Also, depending on the season, there is chocolate with orange and Grand Marnier, spiced cider, or a honey/goat-cheese combo.
Kim is happy to take orders for weddings or gift giving, and if you give her four to six weeks, she will customize any order for you. Because of the freshness of the ingredients, it’s best to snatch them up before the weather gets too hot, but be sure to get some extras; you’ll be surprised how fast they go.
La Petite Occasion caramels are sold at The Blue Pig, Plum Plums, and The Katonah Reading Room, among other local stores and farmers’ markets.