Last week you learned about Happy Goat goat milk caramels, and today you’re going to hear from the man behind the curtain, Michael Winnike. Michael’s launched the Happy Goat brand with some specific ideals in mind, and he puts a lot of time and energy into creating sweets that will tickle every inch of your sensibilities. So here he is, sharing the magic behind Happy Goat.
What is the Happy Goat philosophy?
We are dedicated to creating delicious and exciting goat milk treats that make people happy. We use all natural ingredients from responsible suppliers so that our customers can feel good about their occasional indulgences.
Can you tell us about the ingredients in your caramels?
Our caramels contain about as much fat and calories as their cow milk counterparts. However, unlike many commercial caramels, we don’t use fillers like coconut oil or egg whites or gelatin. Also, some caramels are almost all sugar with just a splash of milk. We don’t skimp on the expensive ingredients. As a result, our caramels are loaded with great dairy flavor and can be savored over a long period of time. Each piece is satisfying, and at about 30 calories each an occasional treat doesn’t have to sabotage one’s diet.
Goat milk is wonderful. It offers a fuller, more complex flavor without the bloating and digestive discomfort associated with cow milk. Goat milk can often be consumed by those with intolerance to cow’s milk, since it is easy on the digestive system. It is also low in lactose.
How and why did you start Happy Goat?
I have always loved cooking and eating. Inspired by a family friend’s homemade truffles, I started focusing on confections as a hobby about three years ago. As my hobby grew more serious, I started renting a commercial kitchen and working my way through several of the most prominent cookbooks on confections. I was working in a law firm at the time. I would sometimes leave work at 10 pm at night and head straight to the kitchen to make truffles until 2 am.
I was tired, but I got a lot of pleasure out of the late nights. I also noticed that sharing my homemade treats with my coworkers went a long way in creating a little moment of happiness and connection during an otherwise demanding and stressful day.
I have been experimenting with goat’s milk for over a year and a half and working on Happy Goat itself for roughly a year. It is exciting to see our caramels finally go to market!
How did you come up with the idea of goat milk caramels?
I came to goat milk caramels in a roundabout way. My friend Kate (a fellow hobbyist turned pro) moved to Kansas and became friends with the owner of a sheep farm. She started making sheep’s milk truffles. When I found out about this I was very curious, and perhaps a bit competitive – I had to play with this new twist on truffles.
I couldn’t find sheep’s milk. Luckily in California we have plenty of great goat diaries. I started out making goat’s milk truffles and it was a natural progression to experiment with caramels. The chocolates were great, but the caramel completely captivated me. It wasn’t until I started working on taking the product to retail that I learned about all the fantastic environmental and health benefits. It is also pretty awesome seeing someone with lactose intolerance who has not had caramel in a long time finally be able to indulge.
What are your priorities for the company?
I would love to see the Happy Goat grow. I think we can be a great ambassador for goat milk. Of course, as an extremely small company, my business partner Kyle and I are going to spend a lot of time sampling our product and pitching new accounts. Luckily the food world is so rich with creative and enthusiastic people that it makes these tasks a real delight. However, I still spend a lot of time tinkering with new recipes in the kitchen. I can’t help it.
What else can you use goat milk for?
Well…. we have at least 6 other products lined up if our caramel is successful. I am not giving away our secrets yet though!
Want to try some goat milk caramels of your own?
I’m giving you a chance to win a Happy Goat gift basket – one lucky winner will receive a gift box of goat milk caramels. For more information, visit the original post with the contest.