Ellen Daehnick's friend Sy came over to watch a movie but instead of “All About Eve,” she brought cream, butter and a sea salt caramel recipe she'd seen. Later, after much tweaking, they had a master recipe for salted caramels and were making them for family and friends who couldn’t seem to get enough.
Ellen didn't start out in the food business, although she worked as a waitress when she was a teenager. A political science major, she became a demographer, then got an MBA and became a consultant.
Her husband told her back in 2010, "You know, you ought to sell those caramels!" And something clicked. Within four weeks, she was up and running!
Helliemae's was born: big flavors that don't hesitate or apologize – rich, dark, buttery salted caramels, handmade in small batches in Denver, Colorado. She starts with a great foundation: natural cane sugar, fresh butter and cream, pure vanilla. Whenever possible, ingredients are sourced locally. Sea salt and spices come from nearby Denver's Savory Spice Shop. Butter and cream come from western dairies and are hormone-free and organic. Ellen's working hard right now to source all the dairy products from organic producers in Colorado.
These ingredients are transformed into salted caramels in tiny, four-pound quantities. It takes hours of individual tending to get the best possible result.
Ellen's attention to detail extends to packaging: her brown kraft boxes are 100% recyclable/compostable, and the logo is stamped by hand.
What's 'Hellimae' mean? When Ellen was growing up in Houston in the 70s and 80s, she used to watch reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies and people used to call her Ellie Mae. When she was trying to figure out what to call these caramels, "Helliemae just seemed right: a handcrafted sensibility with a touch of post-punk DIY." It just felt like her.