Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sassy Sauces and an Interview with the Sassy Sweetmaker Herself!

Last weekend my sister and I stopped into Shake the Tree in the North End for an ice cream party featuring the fabulous Maureen Harder's Sassy Sauces. Maureen herself was a simply charming woman, and Arianna and I left the party unsure as to whether we enjoyed the company or the sauces more!

Maureen had warmed up both the bittersweet chocolate and the rum caramel sauce and was serving it over vanilla ice cream. Not a huge fan of liquor based anything, I chose the bittersweet chocolate. Wow. What a treat!

A true reporter, I owed it to my audience to try the rum caramel as well, to which I turned to Maureen and said something like "I don't even like rum, but this is good!"

Maureen also had tasting spoons for sampling the spicy dark chocolate and the peanut butter fudge sauces. Though they weren't heated, they still were amazing, and I knew that if I bought a jar I too would be eating right out of the jar. In the end, Arianna and I bought our sister a jar to send in a care package, so even though she couldn't be at the tasting with us, she could at least experience a bit of this chocolatey goodness!

After the event, Maureen graciously answered some questions about Sassy Sauces, so here is the inside "scoop" -- yes, pun was definitely intended!

Scoopalicious: I read on your website that you made the original Sassy Sauces as a gift one Christmas, and because of the success of the gift, you decided to make these sauces for sale. How soon after this fateful Christmas did you start making the sauces?
Maureen: I started making my sauces about a year after that in November of 2007. It was really an eye opening experience starting a business in Massachusetts, deciding on if I should incorporate or do an L
LC, getting all the licensing for state of Massachusetts wholesale. You also have to go through something called a scheduled process when you begin producing a food product which requires someone reviewing your recipe and procedure to see if it is safe and proper. Lastly, I had to find a commercial kitchen that I could use that had all of the equipment I needed. I began making my sauces in Vermont and later moved to Western Massachusetts because it was a bit closer.

How long have you been selling Sassy Sauces?
Maureen: I have been selling them a little over a year.

Scoopalicious: Do you make the sauces alone or do you have help?
Maureen: I employ my husband who receives no salary but gets all the sauce he wants and gets to hang with his wife away for a weekend.

Scoopalicious: How large a batch do you mix up at a time?
Maureen: We usually do 200 pound batches of each flavor.

Scoopalicious: Tell us little about the kitchen that allows you to make such large batches!
Maureen: I make my sauces at a commercial kitchen called the FCCDC it is the Franklin County Community Devolepment Center in Greenfield, MA. It is a commercial kitchen for small food business and entrepreneurs.

Do you do this full time?
Maureen: I do. I also have a 3 1/2 year old boy and a 20 month old boy who I stay home with so it is interesting. I depend on my husband a lot when I do events and I bring my youngest on sales calls.

Scoopalicious: Which is your favorite sauce?
Maureen: I am loving to Spicy Dark right now but they all appeal to me at different times. Around Thanksgiving I am all Rum Caramel because it is awesome with pie and bread pudding and of course I have a peanut butter addiction.

Scoopalicious: Any other new sauces in the works that we should get excited for?
Maureen: I am working on a butter toffee that is so yummy and creamy.

Scoopalicious: Rumor has it you also make *ice cream*...and you have made some pretty different flavors. Tell us about that...
Maureen: I worked with this pastry chef that used to make saffron and pink peppercorn when I first started in pastry. Personally I am in love with black forest, sour morello cherries, kirsch liquor and bittersweet chocolate chunks in a vanilla base. But I also like chocolate s'mores, and passion fruit prosesco sorbet. It really depends on the season and my mood....I mean in strawberry season...forget it plain strawberry is great or strawberry cheesecake.

Scoopalicious: Your package design is just fabulous! What caused you to give the sauces a funky, retro look?
Maureen: A friend of the my family designed it for me and it is perfect because what everyone says is that the sauces remind them of the hot fudge sundae they would get when they were little. It is definately a throw back to a time when everyone was so put together and fabulous. I want people to look at my sauces as a chance to be fabulous whether it is throwing together a fondue party or whipping up chocolate mousse with the bittersweet chocolate or making an amazing sundae.

Scoopalicious: What do you have as future plans for your company?
Maureen: I am really hoping for great things, I want to expand my sauce line and have some great ideas. I would love to get into other pastry items, I have been working on some mixes and things for the farmers markets this summer and really just love baking and creating good wholesome stuff for people who like sweet treats but don't have time themselves.

Visit Maureen's website for stories about how she got started, her rich culinary history, and to purchase some of her Sassy Sauces. (The sauces can be purchased online or at local Boston shops. For a list of shops carrying the sauces, click here.)

Special thanks to Arianna for her help with the questions and for being a great sauce tasting date, and to Maureen Harder for answering all of our questions!

All images © Maureen Harder, Sassy Sauces.

1 comment:

wheresmymind said...

Great interview...I love her sauces and am totally taking her picture this summer at our local Farmers market :)


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