NEW BERLIN — An exuberant Becky Scarberry, who celebrates all things sweet, recently opened Becky's Blissful Bakery in New Berlin.
Becky's was New Berln's Business of the Month for February and Mayor Dave Ament said. "It's nice to have family-owned businesses because they're the heart our industrial parks and business parks." They tend to be involved with the community, they become part of the fabric of the community and they give it stability, he said.
And besides, Ament said, "I love caramels."
And that's what Becky's has lots of. Even though it calls itself a bakery, it's really in the caramels game. So, why bakery in the name?
Bakery the idea
"I remember at the time I thought I would be making cookies and cakes and bars," Scarberry said. "I have a passion for desserts and organic."
She asked her sister to suggest a good name for the business.
"You want people to be happy around you," she said, suggesting blissful bakery. So, Becky's Blissful Bakery was born.
But the budding entrepreneur soon ran into a sticky problem.
"The market is saturated with cookies, cakes and baked goods," she said. However, there is plenty of room for caramels.
She hadn't made a lot of caramels before, but she was undaunted.
To caramel queen
"Growing up, I was known as Betty Crocker. If it has sugar in it, I can make it very well," Scarberry said.
However, making caramels on a commercial scale meant she would need help. So, she got a food scientist involved to navigate the intricacies of such things as how fats and proteins break down.
"There's a lot of science involved," Scarberry said.
In 2007, she was ready to open. She kept bakery in the name. It just seemed to fit in so well.
Her first kitchen was in Waukesha where she was licensed to share the kitchen of a friend who had a going concern. She moved from there to another location, then to Pewaukee and finally to 16336 W. Glendale Drive in New Berlin.
Tucked into a corner of the industrial park, Becky's Blissful Bakery doesn't have a retail store, selling nearly all of its caramel confections online and wholesale to grocery stores and soon to restaurants.
But it does have a showroom where visitors pop in, maybe try a caramel or two, and take home something to sweeten their day.
For those who like their sweets organic, Becky's has a selection just for them. The milk, butter, sugar and brown rice syrup are all FDA certified organic, she said.
Along with the health theme of organic, none of Scarberry's caramels contain corn syrup, be they organic or regular caramels, she said.
"We don't use corn syrup at all," she said. It's healthier and it sets her caramels apart from others, she said.
Asked which was her favorite caramel, Scarberry answered with a careful, the newest one — salted whiskey caramels. She uses real Kinnickinnic Whisky from the Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee's Walkers Point.
"I can't believe how good they taste," she said. The cost, $10.49.
Besides the original caramels that sell for $9.99, Becky's offers such delights as salted gingerbread caramels, organic dark chocolate sea salt caramels and organic original sea salt caramels, both $11.99, and how about pretzel caramels, beer and pretzel caramels,$9.99, and caramel sauce, $9.99.
Finds a winner
Her 12-year-old son Paul was directly responsible for the shop's peppermint caramels being picked up as a holiday product by Williams-Sonoma, upscale chain offering high-end cookware, kitchen accessories and gourmet selections.
Paul surveyed the students and teachers at his elementary school, creating graphs showing what they wanted in caramel flavors. Then mom made 25 pounds of caramels in the flavors they suggested and the kids ranked them. That's how the peppermint caramel came about.
"I never would have thought of combining those flavors," Scarberry said.
The caramel maker supreme was asked what the most common mistake of a home caramel makers is. Her answer — they try to rush the process by having the heat too high and they don't keep stirring.
"They don't give the ingredients time to marry," she said. Those ingredients have to be coaxed by constant stirring, too.
"You cook it slowly, your arm should be tired" at the end, Scarberry said.
Her other advice is to invest in a good candy thermometer (she likes the digital kind) and to buy the best ingredients available.
Scarberry grew up in Reno, Nevada and lived for a decade in Arizona before coming to Wisconsin.
"I was a stay-at-home mom," she said. when she walked into Good Harvest Market in Waukesha. She was looking for an ingredient. The owner asked her what she was making, so she made him a batch of caramels.
"I want to sell these here," was his reaction.
With that encouragement, she dipped herself into the business world.
"It got me out of the house, so I could connect with people, build friendships and relationships," she said. Her caramels are still selling like hotcakes at Good Harvest Market, as well as at other places, now.
She chose New Berlin as her fourth location because it's close to freeways and close to their Brookfield home, she said. She picked New Berlin over several other locations, she said.