Courto's Katas: All-Natural, Locally Made Sweets
With anticipation I unravel the shiny gold foil, revealing a silver lining, beyond which lies the simple goodness protected within. Suddenly, I am whisked back to my childhood on a crisp Halloween night, enjoying a caramel apple in my small Wisconsin town.
Wait—where am I? Oh yes, the farmers’ market in downtown Sarasota, where I have just indulged in a delicious little trip into the past. Enter Courto’s Katas: Homemade Caramels, Toffees, and Brittles.
You can bid your Bit-O-Honey farewell and shove your Sugar Babies aside. Moving front and center in the confectioner’s category is Courtney Blanchette with her all-natural, locally made sweets.
Set up prominently each Saturday at the Sarasota Farmers Market and Friday mornings at the Lakewood Ranch Farmers Market, this candy connoisseur has been satisfying Sarasota’s sweet tooth since 2009. Courto’s Katas offers classic favorites such as delicately wrapped caramels in original, chocolate, or pecan variations; flavorful cashew, peanut, or pecan “soft” brittles; and decadent chocolate pecan toffee. Though she prefers to stick to the classics, upon request Blanchette will make other flavors, such as pistachio brittle or pralines.
Working locally in Sarasota, Blanchette prepares her glutenfree goodies in small batches on induction cooktops in a commercial kitchen, delicately adding her signature gold bow to each eye-catching green package. They are truly wrapped with care. Blanchette, who unabashedly admits to loving caramels and candies while growing up, shared how she has always enjoyed cooking and making caramels as gifts for her friends and co-workers.
After receiving repeated compliments and requests to make more, and using recipes passed down from her grandmother and mother, she decided to take a risk—and Courto’s Katas was born.
Surrounded by little swirled batches of pecan toffee cooling, and chocolate caramel waiting to be cut, it is obvious that Blanchette loves to share a little sweetness with the world. She had just shipped hundreds of boxes of caramels off to a church in Chicago for a charity and was preparing 60 more to ship to the Hamptons. Not to mention the 600 goody bags she made up for Riverview Prom this past spring.
Her sweets also serve as bedtime treats as part of a turn-down service at a few prominent hotels. Courto’s Katas offers specialty packaging for holiday parties, weddings, or corporate events with guaranteed free delivery on local orders. Although she doesn’t have a storefront, her divine delicacies can be picked up at the kitchen— just call before you come.
When asked what sets her candy apart from others Blanchette mentioned how labor intensive it is as well as the effort she puts into it. “It’s not just the packaging or that it is sinful,” she said, smiling thoughtfully, “but that it puts a smile on people’s faces and brings them back to connect with something.” Blanchette recalled fondly a military veteran who sampled one of her caramels and, as tears streamed down his face, told her that when he was in Vietnam his mother would send him caramels weekly. The power of taste and memory.
Connections are another aspect of Blanchette that are easy to see. She spoke sincerely about regulars such as Marilyn and Arthur, who come to the farmers market weekly to chat and support her business.
Look for Courto’s Katas’ signature green presence at the farmers’ markets, meet Blanchette, and let her sweetness shine as you indulge in a taste of yesterday.