By Chris Hendrickson, contributing writer
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and for folks who may be scrambling for ideas on what to get for their loved ones, chocolate is never a bad idea.
Galaxy Chocolates in Sultan offers a wide variety of treats including chocolates that range from strictly traditional to downright uncommon, all handcrafted by owner Kathryne Paz.
Paz works to provide unique flavors and an expansive variety when it comes to her confections while continuing to provide the traditional array of flavors that everybody knows and loves.
Paz, whose shop is open seven days a week, has been operating out of her Sultan Main Street location for two years; having previously owned and operated Celestial Coffee in Startup.
Paz was featured in Sultan’s Business Spotlight program for the month of January and received a certificate of honor at City Hall where she was commended for her extensive community outreach work. In November, Paz donated 44 pies to Sultan Harvest, Sultan’s volunteer-driven community-wide Thanksgiving dinner. She has contributed to the event both of her years in Sultan.
From ultra-spicy to salty-sweet, the candy selection at Galaxy travels across a wide
spectrum. Paz has 41 different varieties of sea salts and 52 different flavors of caramel, having finessed the perfect blend of cream and flavoring in her recipe. Paz stated that the mixture has to be evenly balanced to obtain the consistency that she strives for in her caramel.
Some of her best-selling caramel flavors include her apple cider caramels and her root beer float caramels. The apple cider caramels are covered in white chocolate, and sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar. The root beer-float caramels are made with root beer-flavored caramel and are also covered in white chocolate.
Other top sellers at Galaxy are the English toffee caramels which feature caramel interspersed with Paz’s crunchy homemade toffee, the bacon-topped sea salt caramels and the coconut caramels.
Paz also has several beers “on tap,” so to speak. Her “boozy” line of caramel flavors includes a raspberry beer, Red Hook Ale, hefeweizen, Blue Moon and the Black and Tan. The Black and Tan combines two different flavors of beer; Guinness and Belgian Pale Ale.
Limited edition champagne-flavored caramels and cork-shaped champagne truffles will be offered this week as a Valentine’s Day special.
She carries around 60 different varieties of truffles, with about 70 more candy varieties that fall into her “miscellaneous” category. Her unique ideas extend to her truffle recipes as well as her caramels. One of her recent inventions is her carrot cake truffle which includes dehydrated carrots, raisins, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
Other truffle flavors include cola, wine, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, dark chocolate and cupcake.
Where does Paz find the inspiration for her flavor ideas? Not any one specific place.
“I used to write poetry, and I never left the house without a tablet,” said Paz. “Now I carry a tablet wherever I go because chocolate flavors are popping into my head.”
Folks who love the fusion of sweet and spicy have plenty of options at Galaxy; Paz features nine varieties of spicy salts. Her “venom” caramels are lightly sprinkled with a salt that has been blended with Trinidad Scorpion pepper; a pepper which rates over 1.2 million units on the Scoville scale of spiciness. And her ghost pepper salted caramels come in at over one million units on the scale.
The Scoville scale is the standard method of measurement used to gauge the hotness of spicy foods. Green peppers rate a zero, jalapenos range from 2500 to 8000 units, habaneros from 100,000 to 350,000 and the ghost pepper weighs in at a million plus.
Trinidad Scorpion peppers are some of the highest-rated peppers around.
Paz features several milder treats for those who want to experience the spicy flavor but may not be quite ready for the life-changing experience of a million Scoville units. She offers cayenne, Sriracha, spicy curry and chili sea salt.
Her spicy series of candy has been very successful.
“Chili and chocolate go really well together,” said Paz. “People just dig on it.”
Ideally, Paz would like to someday expand her display area to offer room for additional flavored caramels.
“I would have two cases for the caramel,” said Paz. “I would have one for sea salts and one for flavors because I have tons more flavors that are in my head, and I tell you, they are itching to get out.”
Paz enjoys working with different ingredients and flavors, melding them together and seeing what happens. Her signature “Galaxy” caramels consist of layers including caramel and pretzels, peanut butter dough made from crunchy-style peanut butter and crispy-rice cereal, honey roasted peanuts, coconut dough and tiny dehydrated marshmallows.
She also loves combining the unusual; infusing non-traditional flavors in with her chocolate. Her “chips ‘n salsa” chocolates are comprised of dark chocolate, sundried tomatoes, cilantro, freeze-dried jalapeños, onions, garlic, black pepper and tortilla chips.
Paz acknowledges that it might sound weird, but you just have to try it.
With all that chocolate at her fingertips, what does Paz choose to snack on when she wants to splurge? Her first choice would actually be a cookie, she said. But if she had to choose something from her candy case, she said that she leans towards the caramel section.
“If I’m going to eat anything, it’s going to be a caramel,” said Paz. “Occasionally I’ll grab a white chocolate cashew cluster.”
Paz is looking forward to continuing her outreach work in 2014. In addition to her contributions to Sultan Harvest last year she also held a dessert auction as well as two raffles, all of which benefited Sultan’s senior center. Her charity work has flourished since 2012 when she donated 92 treat-filled Easter baskets to the Gold Bar Easter Egg Hunt.
This week Paz is holding another raffle, for which all the proceeds are targeted for the Sultan Food Bank. Raffle tickets are $2 each, and the winner will receive an assortment of chocolates valued at $150.
Paz works seven days a week and is always experimenting with new flavor profiles for her chocolates and caramels. Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick holds her “Coffee with the Mayor” event at Galaxy Chocolates at 9 a.m. every Friday.
“I’ve never met anyone with more perseverance than Kathryne,” said Mayor Eslick.
Paz’s sister, Norliene Day, lives in Marysville and believes that Galaxy’s chocolate treats are well worth the drive to Sultan.
“I believe in my sister’s dream,” said Day. “She is an amazing woman with creativity beyond what the average chocolatier could even begin to think of.”
Galaxy Chocolates is located at 501 Main St. in Sultan. For additional information, please call 360-863-6265 or visit the Galaxy Chocolates Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GalaxyChocolates.