Local candy makers Kopper-Kettle Candies is selling its seasonal treat of caramel apples.
For sale in September and October only, the Karamel apples, as named by Kopper-Kettle, come plain or with a variety of toppings, including pecans, almonds, sprinkles, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate, toasted coconut and chocolate candies.
Beginning at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 1, Kopper-Kettle’s candy makers dipped and decorated hundreds of apples for sale, said owner Tommy Greer.
“This pot was about half full when we started this morning,” Greer said, pointing to a massive copper vat nearly empty of caramel.
Caramel is made fresh for each batch of apples, which are washed and sorted for quality before being dipped in the sweet, golden confection, Greer said.
Any caramel left after the apples are coated will be cooled and cut to be covered in chocolate, Greer said. The caramel is made with sugar, inverted sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and corn syrup, he said.
During a visit on Thursday, Greer gave a tour of the confectionery and talked about some of the practices that make Kopper-Kettle Candies so delicious.
In the enrober room, a 70-year-old chocolate melter machine was stirring two large vats of chocolate kept at 100 degrees, Greer said.
It’s important that quality chocolate contains cocoa butter, he said.
“If it has any fat other than cocoa butter, it’s not real chocolate,” Greer said.
Finished chocolates are kept in the cooling room at temperatures of 60-65 degree Fahrenheit and 40-50 percent humidity.
“That’s the perfect conditions for chocolate,” Greer said.
Greer also noted how little chocolate initials are swirled on the cremes to indicate their flavor.
Kopper-Kettle Candies started in 1925. Greer’s parents, ML and Betty Greer, moved the company to their location at 6300 Alma Highway in Van Buren in the mid 1950s, he said.
Kopper-Kettle is very much a family-owned business, with several family members working in the candy shop each day, including Greer’s wife Barryann and their daughter, Teresa Tankersley.
While the company now uses technology to do jobs such as tempering the chocolate, Tankersley noted that the company used to do much of the work by hand - including dipping candies.
Employees with a talent for the work, including her mother, would spend all day at the dipping table, Tankersley said. They would dip the candy with their left hand and set it to dry with their right, she said.
“They would pull the chocolate out and they would make a bed, and in the center would be the soft chocolate,” Tankersley said.
Tankerley’s parents have ran the shop since about 1978, she said. Though her grandparents sold both candies and gifts, since her parents took over the company it has grown to have a 95 percent focus on candies, she said.
Karamel apples are not the only seasonal treat sold by Kopper-Kettle. Heart-shaped candy boxes that can be refilled each year are sold for Valentine’s Day, specialty chocolate bunnies are available at Easter, milk chocolate covered strawberries are sold in April and May, and the public is invited on Black Friday to watch giant candy canes made for Christmas.