Traditionally, caramel is made with a few simple ingredients -- sugar, water, butter, and cream. But Jonathan “JJ” Rademaekers was determined to create a dairy-free version that was not only better for the body, but also had nutritional benefits and sustainability. So in 2009, he started experimenting in the kitchen, making candy using old recipes but tweaking the ingredients to make them more healthful. When he gave caramel a go, he used coconut milk instead of dairy milk and when he tasted the results, he knew he was onto something good.
In 2010, he launched his company JJ Sweets on the strength and popularity of this smooth, creamy confection, which he called Cocomel. Since its humble beginnings, the Cocomel range has grown beyond its original flavor and now includes varieties like Vanilla, Sea Salt and Espresso. And the chocolate-covered Cocomels are especially to-die-for! Ingredients are totally vegan and mostly organic, from the cocoa butter to the vanilla extract, and you can really taste the difference -- Cocomels are decadent and mellow, and you can detect notes of coconut from the milk, but they never overpower the flavor. JJ Sweets products are non-GMO, kosher, and vegan and are made by hand in copper kettles at the company's Boulder, Colorado kitchen. So for JJ, artisanal isn't just a trendy buzzword, it's the only way to be