Twist Caramel's Donna Croyle and Julie Schobert: Caramelpalooza 2013

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As the chefs competing in Smeeks and Chow Bella's fourth annual Caramelpalooza -- coming 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, at UNION -- get out the candy thermometers, we've got our pens ready to introduce you to the faces behind the caramel.

Just over a year ago, Donna Croyle and Julie Schobert, two moms who became friends through their love of cooking classes and their daughters' friendship, were considering starting a caramel business.

But the question loomed: Would there be enough demand? Were young people even eating caramel these days? And as if it were the product of divine intervention, they discovered the 2012 Caramelpalooza. A few weeks later, Croyle and Schobert (the chief twisting officer and president of tasting, respectively) formed their LLC, Twist Caramels.

Not long after selling their three flavored caramels (pistachio, chocolate, and buttered salt) around Arizona, word quickly spread to Southern California, where they landed an account with a luxury boutique hotel in Santa Barbara that soon will be using their caramels for its nightly turndown service.

Though Croyle and Schobert are relatively new to the caramel-making game, their sweet success has certainly proved they're naturals.

See Also: Churn's Monica Castillo: Caramelpalooza Candymakers 2013 Herb Box's LaDawn Driscoll: Caramelpalooza Candymakers 2013 Announcing the Caramel Makers for Smeeks & Chow Bella's Caramelpalooza 2013!

My favorite food movie is . . . Donna: Chocolat Julie: Julie and Julia

Good caramel should . . . Donna: Make you want more Julie: Not damage your dental work, ideally

I can never get full of . . . Donna: Family and friends -- well, maybe some family Julie: Dessert of any kind

My go-to midnight snack is . . . Donna: Cereal Julie: My family won't allow me to eat in front of them (apparently, I have a slurping problem)

One thing everyone should know how to make is . . . Donna: Cake from scratch Julie: Chocolate chip cookies

I always bring ___ to a party. Donna: Champagne Julie: Cookies

Very first meal I can remember eating was . . . Donna: The first meal I can remember eating is Thanksgiving dinner at age 5 with just my folks. There was so much excitement in the kitchen and everything from the food to the kitchen looked grand and beautiful. Looking back at the pictures of that day, it was a tiny little table in a tiny little kitchen with a shriveled up old bird but what a great day it was! Julie: I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday for Heaven's sake!

Dessert first or last? Donna: Last Julie: First!

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