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Mother-daughter-produced Cowgirl Caramels make holiday debut

Wed., Nov. 27, 2013, midnight

Heat things up this winter with a little habanero in your Christmas caramels.

Cowgirl Caramels, made by Alyson Paredes and her daughter Demi Paredes, are now for sale at the temporary To Market kiosk in River Park Square in downtown Spokane. The holiday kiosk opened Nov. 1 and keeps mall hours through Dec. 31.

It’s the first official location for the new Spokane candy company. Although the pair have been making them at Christmas for the past 20 years – since Demi was 3 or 4 – their caramels haven’t been commercially available until now.

Flavors are vanilla, vanilla sea salt, vanilla pecan, espresso sea salt and pumpkin pecan. (“It tastes like pumpkin pie,” said Alyson Paredes, 53.) Habanero sea salt, the newest flavor, debuted in early November.

All flavors are sold in 6-ounce bags with about 20 candies for $11.95. A variety bag is also for sale.

Alyson Paredes and her daughter started making caramels at the holidays for friends and family, who kept telling them, “You should really sell those.” So they formed a company this fall, rented a commercial kitchen and got started.

They use an adaptation of a recipe belonging to Paredes’ mother, the late Micki Kazanis, who made plain vanilla caramels. Throughout the years, the mother-daughter team tweaked the formula and added different flavors to keep up with trends and tastes.

Tracy Peterson, 35, of Spokane, who stopped by the kiosk on a recent weekday morning, said she ate an entire variety bag before she got home.

“I’m not a sweets person,” Peterson said. “I normally don’t do caramels. But they were good. Vanilla sea salt was my favorite.”

Each batch is hand-stirred for two hours, cooled for 24 hours, then hand-cut, wrapped and bagged.

“We do not use a machine,” Alyson Paredes said. “It is very labor intensive.”

The company name honors her daughter, Demi Paredes, 24, who gives horse-back riding lessons at her mom’s ranch, Buckwheat Farms, just south of Spokane.

“My daughter’s kind of a little cowgirl,” Alyson Paredes said. She said Cowgirl Caramels make good stocking stuffers and gifts for hosts or hostesses this holiday season.

“It’s different and cute and local,” she said. “It’s perfect.”

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