Last week I received a call from my long time friend, Rick Siegel of Shoestring fame. He owned Shoestring in Placerville, before selling it to his sister, Debbie, and now his daughter and her husband run the Shoestring restaurant in Garden Valley.
He called to tell me that a brand new candy store opened in the same shopping center as Shoestring, which is located at 4862 Black Oak Mine Road in Garden Valley. He said everything they made was great and that I should come over and sample what they had. Their grand opening was last Sunday, so I drove over there to see for myself and I was delighted.
Brad and Lori Rafferty run the business, but for the opening Brad’s father, Raff, was there to help (while everyone else had the list of items on the back of their tee shirt, his said, “Raff’s Back”).
Raff opened the first Rafferty’s Candies in 1967 at Sun Valley Mall in Concord, CA. After that he opened stores in places like Modesto and El Cajon, and at one time had four stores going.
“Brad grew up in the business,” said Lori, Rafferty, “and ever since I met him has talked about opening a candy store of his own. Now we have done it, right here in Garden Valley where we live. And, the community support has been fantastic. We have only been open three weeks and people are finding us and loving what we make.”
While I was there Raff was making pecan brittle and I got to watch the process. After the brittle was cooked, it was poured from a copper kettle out onto a marble slab. “We had to special order the slab from Vermont,” said Lori. “It is three by eight feet and had to be four inches thick to properly cool the brittle. It weighs about 700 pounds.”
As the brittle cooled, it was flipped, pulled, pressed and thinned and then cut into pieces, which would be then broken in the proper size. The whole process took just a few minutes and it was thin and delicious, as were several other brittles I tried.
They have peanut, cashew, almond, macadamia nut and pecan brittles, with more to come, English toffee, honeycomb, fudge, pecan caramel delights, “ugly cups” (chocolate and peanut butter treats that are only a bit “ugly,” but I am sure are delicious), rocky road, divinity, chocolate covered nuts, caramel and cinnamon apples and lots more. Oh yes, milk, dark and white chocolate. All of this is on the top shelf.
On the second shelf are items they don’t make like salt water taffy (regular and sugar free), Jelly Bellys, jawbreakers, gummy worms, chocolate malt balls, pastels, cinnamon bears, orange sticks, raspberry sticks, licorice bridge mix and even more.
They will be adding more items as they go along and yes, everything I tried was excellent, especially the dark chocolate honeycomb and the dark chocolate English toffee.
“We’ve got candy making down to an art,” added Lori. “Once people try our hand-dipped chocolates and hand-stretched, thin brittle, they won’t be satisfied with any others.”
Rafferty’s Candies is open daily from 11 until 5 ( “If we’re here, we are open,” added Lori) and can be reached at (530) 333-1633 or visited at www.raffertyscandies.com.