Sweet Tooth: Monastery Candy in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sweet Tooth: Monastery Candy in Dubuque


Some mouth watering caramels are made right here in eastern Iowa by the Trappes nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque. This particular monastery was founded in 1964 when 13 nuns moved to Dubuque from Massachusetts. About one year later, the monastery began making candy.

The specialty caramel recipe comes from a Greek confectioner in Rhode Island who shared his list of ingredients with the nuns.

The nuns make wrapped and coated caramels. We visited on a coated caramel production day.

"So this operation today takes nine people. If running both coaters. We have a light, milk chocolate and dark chocolate," said Sister Kathleen O'Neill.

First, the caramel is cooked to 243 degrees. Then it's spread out on slabs to cool overnight. The next day these slabs, which weigh about 20 pounds, are taken to be cut into strips using a machine. The strips are separated and fed through another machine to be cut into squares. The squares are placed in rows on a tray and full trays get taken into another room. There, the caramel squares are loaded onto a conveyor and get coated with chocolate. Then the caramel makes its way down the line to be boxed.

"And it's important to us our candy go out looking good and tasting good and that it be done well," said Sister Kathleen.

Monastery Candy does 85 percent of its yearly business during three months: October, November and December. The monastery makes about 70,000 pounds of caramel a year.

"We're not in it to make money, we're not looking to grow our business past a certain point. We're just doing this to support ourselves, so when people buy our candy they're certainly helping us to live a life of prayer," said Sister Kathleen.

Monastery Candy also makes mint and hazelnut candies.

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