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Le Caramel, straight from le source

Thriving East County candy maker serves waffles on Wednesday

A Belgian waffle, served Wednesdays at Le Caramel
A Belgian waffle, served Wednesdays at Le Caramel

In case you woke up this morning wondering where is the best place in the county to get exquisite French caramel, I’m here to tell you: it’s El Cajon.

Place

Le Caramel

1181 Pioneer Way, El Cajon

Don’t look surprised. Only a few years ago, the answer would have been Santee. That’s where France natives Christen and Vincent Kugener originally opened their wholesale business, Le Caramel, ten years ago. Business has apparently been bon bon for the brand, whose caramel reportedly supplies large-scale manufacturers of ice cream, snacks, and dessert toppings. Le Caramel has grown into larger El Cajon digs, and for the past couple years offered a small retail component for those among us who enjoy getting our European candy from the source.

A local take on the famous sea salt caramel cream of Isigny, France

The brand’s web site tells how the Kugeners spent a year learning the art of making the sweet stuff from one of France’s top caramel makers, particularly the salted caramel cream made famous by Isigny, a big dairy region in Normandy. (Fun fact: d'Isigny is the derivation of the name Disney).

Bottles of the creamy caramel are offered in the shop, along with non-dairy caramel syrup, bags of caramel popcorn, caramel fudge, and candies. Some of these products are flavored with salt, chocolate, maple, or pumpkin spice, and pretty much every single one is going to be delicious, especially different takes on that salted caramel cream, a luxuriously smooth sauce packaged in jars for dipping, or in squeeze bottles to pour over ice cream, etc.

Caramel candies and sauces, made in El Cajon

Also, because the Kugeners bought gift basket company The Basket Corner last year, the small counter shop offers caramel- and non-caramel-themed gift baskets.

However, if you’re looking for an excuse to head over there, do so on a Wednesday. That one day of the week Le Caramel serves waffles. Time it right and the latest batch will be warm and pliant within the lightly crisped, sweet Belgian waffle crust, which you may have drizzled with caramel sauce. Once in the shop, you won’t be able to resist stocking up on caramel candies and sauces, and I can attest it takes some willpower to keep the shopping excursion from getting out of hand.

My waffle was gone in an instant, but that salted caramel cream is going to find itself drizzled over just about every cookie, piece of fruit, or bowl of ice cream I bring home for the foreseeable future.

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A Belgian waffle, served Wednesdays at Le Caramel
A Belgian waffle, served Wednesdays at Le Caramel

In case you woke up this morning wondering where is the best place in the county to get exquisite French caramel, I’m here to tell you: it’s El Cajon.

Place

Le Caramel

1181 Pioneer Way, El Cajon

Don’t look surprised. Only a few years ago, the answer would have been Santee. That’s where France natives Christen and Vincent Kugener originally opened their wholesale business, Le Caramel, ten years ago. Business has apparently been bon bon for the brand, whose caramel reportedly supplies large-scale manufacturers of ice cream, snacks, and dessert toppings. Le Caramel has grown into larger El Cajon digs, and for the past couple years offered a small retail component for those among us who enjoy getting our European candy from the source.

A local take on the famous sea salt caramel cream of Isigny, France

The brand’s web site tells how the Kugeners spent a year learning the art of making the sweet stuff from one of France’s top caramel makers, particularly the salted caramel cream made famous by Isigny, a big dairy region in Normandy. (Fun fact: d'Isigny is the derivation of the name Disney).

Bottles of the creamy caramel are offered in the shop, along with non-dairy caramel syrup, bags of caramel popcorn, caramel fudge, and candies. Some of these products are flavored with salt, chocolate, maple, or pumpkin spice, and pretty much every single one is going to be delicious, especially different takes on that salted caramel cream, a luxuriously smooth sauce packaged in jars for dipping, or in squeeze bottles to pour over ice cream, etc.

Caramel candies and sauces, made in El Cajon

Also, because the Kugeners bought gift basket company The Basket Corner last year, the small counter shop offers caramel- and non-caramel-themed gift baskets.

However, if you’re looking for an excuse to head over there, do so on a Wednesday. That one day of the week Le Caramel serves waffles. Time it right and the latest batch will be warm and pliant within the lightly crisped, sweet Belgian waffle crust, which you may have drizzled with caramel sauce. Once in the shop, you won’t be able to resist stocking up on caramel candies and sauces, and I can attest it takes some willpower to keep the shopping excursion from getting out of hand.

My waffle was gone in an instant, but that salted caramel cream is going to find itself drizzled over just about every cookie, piece of fruit, or bowl of ice cream I bring home for the foreseeable future.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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