LOWELL -- Though the tile of the old Charo's Bakery still hangs from the corner of Merrimack and Palmer streets, the space's new tenant has just made downtown a little sweeter.
Lydia Blanchard always had a passion for baking and began dabbling in homemade marshmallows five years ago. "I thought it was the coolest experience," she said. She decided to turn the gelatinous sweets into a business venture after receiving many requests from friends and family members. "I said I would give myself a six month gap on my resume to start a business and possibly fail," Blanchard said. "There was nothing really preventing me from taking
And leap she did. Blanchard, of Lowell, produced homemade marshmallows from rented kitchen space at Brew'd Awakening for more than two years before opening a shop of her own, Sweet Lydia's.
"The business was growing so quickly, I didn't have enough space," she said.
Blanchard planned to settle into her new Mill City digs before the holidays so she could get accustomed to the new equipment and set-up but ended up sliding into the space only a few days before Thanksgiving -- just in time for the City of Lights festivities. Everything Blanchard's customers see in the bakery case -- the candy bars, the jelly cubes, the barks -- at Sweet Lydia's is made by her, from scratch (minus the fruit slices).
Blanchard's homemade marshmallows are now featured in her shop's flagship product, s'mores. Each prepackaged s'more is made with marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers, dipped in chocolate. The marshmallows in the premade s'mores are soft enough that the customers doesn't have to heat them before eating (it would melt the chocolate, anyway), Blanchard said.
The difference between the flavor, mouth feel, and texture of homemade and store bought marshmallows is more noticeable to Blanchard than that of other baked goods.
Sweet Lydia's will carry six varieties of marshmallows -- caramel, original, peanut butter, raspberry, toasted coconut, white chocolate -- year-round, and a few seasonal sweets. This month's featured marshmallow, pumpkin spice, is made with cinnamon-sugar graham crackers, and will soon be discontinued to make more space for Blanchard's already-released winter s'more -- Mint Chip (a peppermint marshmallow sandwiched between two chocolate graham crackers, dipped in white chocolate and topped with mint chocolate chips). She also sells bags of S'moresels (bite-sized s'mores) for those looking to share their sweets.
"I think s'mores, in particular are usually a food made around an event... Most people have distinct memories with s'mores," Blanchard said.
160 Merrimack St., Lowell, 978-888-7616, sweetlydias.com
- Hours: Open daily, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Hours might change after the holidays.
- Parking: On-street parking only.
- Menu: Lots of sweets and candies, with a focus on homemade gourmet marshmallows and s'mores. You can also place an order online on the Sweet Lydia's website.
- Try this: Peppermint Bark S'more (peppermint marshmallow, honey graham crackers, dark chocolate, crushed candy canes), Twickers Candy Bar (shortbread, caramel, peanuts, milk chocolate), Chocolate-Covered Toffee (rolled in potato chips), Dark Chocolate Smoked Salt Bark, and Toasted Coconut Marshmallows. Can't decide on only one flavor of marshmallows? Mix and match, and buy them by the pound.