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Velati's Famous Caramels--Pre Civil War Candy Seller in Downtown Silver Spring


darkstar965
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Not sure how this place has escaped notice on dr.com given it's a candy seller that traces its roots to 1866!

Until earlier this week, every time I'd ever been to Silver Spring it had been either an in-and-out to Ray's or the AFI theater or passing through by car on the way to or from somewhere else. I'd noticed the Velati's sign before many times driving by but, walking by this week and thinking twice about that 1866 date shouted from the sign, I had to check it out.

A very nice woman inside was a great storyteller and happily shared the entire history with me when I asked. Founded in Richmond by Italian immigrants sometime before the Civil War. More than 100 years in downtown DC (9th and G NW) until uprooted for Metro. Then sold to Woodrow & Lothrop. Finally, following the department store's bankruptcy, acquired from the Velati heirs by the family that now owns it and operates according to the original recipes right in downtown Silver Spring. More info on all this here.

In addition to the woman who talked with me about the brand and products, I also met a wonderful new candy maker, just graduated from the pastry program at L'Academie de Cuisine. The production area is in the store and clearly visible behind the counter and candy cases at the front.

Finally, the caramels. I tried and brought home a few "sugary" and a few "chewy," plain and with nuts. The chewy are visually and texturally more akin to the caramels sold elsewhere with shiny surfaces. The sugary are similar to a fudge consistency but also caramel so less of the workout for one's jaws and easily melt when eaten. These caramels are made with a small number of simple ingredients and, without any preservatives, have limited shelf life. No doubt many others whose families have lived here many decades know and love Velati's.

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Finally, the caramels. I tried and brought home a few "sugary" and a few "chewy," plain and with nuts. The chewy are visually and texturally more akin to the caramels sold elsewhere with shiny surfaces. The sugary are similar to a fudge consistency but also caramel so less of the workout for one's jaws and easily melt when eaten.

Sounds like penuche. I see (taste) a lot of confections around here labelled "caramel" that are actually penuche. A caramelized sugar by any other name would taste as sweet, I suppose.

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