One sweet lady in New Castle
Over the holiday season, Jo Lynn Murray is putting in some pretty long hours at her commercial kitchen, Sweet Treats Express, in New Castle. She’s open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
But she’s certainly not complaining.
“Christmas is a happy time. I want to do this,” she said, standing in the middle of her kitchen, piles of white chocolate popcorn, truffles and sweet rolls sitting on baking trays around her.
Murray is working almost nonstop, though she said she could “never be an office person, working 9 to 5.” She said she works from 6-10 a.m., then takes a break from her kitchen to deliver her goods. Then she’s back in the kitchen from about 4-9 p.m.
“I love this,” she said. “I get paid to play.”
Sweet Treats Express is located in the Apple Cart Market in the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park. When a restaurant recently closed down in the adjoining Apple Tree Mall, Murray rented the kitchen. A daycare center is renting the former restaurant’s dining room.
The rented kitchen is new digs to Murray, but her candy and baked goods business is old hat. Murray has been making candy professionally for over a decade. She started the Colorado Candy Co. in Denver, working in a rented commercial kitchen like the one in Apple Tree.
“I’d make candy and carry it in a basket, selling to offices,” she said. She also went to a lot of crafts fairs, selling her sweet treats.
Murray moved to the Glenwood Springs area three years ago to be closer to her children. Her daughter and son-in-law, Diana and Craig Bardeman, and son and daughter-in-law Richard and Sara Murray, and granddaughter Kaelynn Murray all live nearby.
Murray reopened her Colorado Candy Co. next to Baskin Robbins in Glenwood Springs. But the shop closed down in short order, Murray said.
“It didn’t work since there wasn’t a kitchen on site,” she said. “It just wasn’t the right fit.”
Now the situation is reversed. Murray has a full commercial kitchen, but no retail space. Still, she said, people can drop by and buy candy directly from her. She also has a full display area in the Apple Cart Market, and she’ll deliver her candy, too.
“I like to deliver in the local area, but you know darn good and well that if I get a $100 order from Aspen, I’ll happily deliver it!” she said laughing.
Murray said she loves making candy and baking caramel rolls, fruit cakes, Christmas breads and cookies.
“Whatever it takes to keep this girl going I’ll do,” she said. “Whatever it takes to keep this old grandma rolling!”
Murray has been cooking and baking “ever since I can remember,” she said. “I grew up on a farm. I was the oldest of five kids so I’ve always cooked.”
Originally from North Dakota, Murray has worked in a lot of other fields besides candy-making.
“I’m people-oriented,” she said.
She’s been a hairdresser, and she said she held one of the first wig parties in Anchorage, Alaska. That’s right. Wig party. Alaska.
She’s also worked in the oil industry and ran a seismograph company with her former husband.
She’s owned and operated an original Western clothing company, and she’s been a property manager. But it all comes back to the kitchen.
“I’m a candy and food person,” she said, unabashedly. “That’s me.”
Completely self-taught, Murray seems to have a gift for creating her treats.
“I just did it,” she said of creating her unique recipes. “I never went to cooking school. You can’t teach desire and attitude. I make everything from scratch. I use the best chocolate, and use my own recipes. You have to feel and touch. Your senses will tell you when it’s right. It’s a God-given talent. You know, you either use it or lose it.”
Murray said she started making candy years ago after she tasted some toffee popcorn and knew she could do better.
“I decided white chocolate popcorn would really be something,” she said. She calls her version “Colorado White Gold.”
“White Chocolaaaate Lovers!” reads the label on one her bags of popcorn. “This popcorn of the very best variety is drenched in white chocolate, so smooth and silky. Colorado White Gold is addictive to chocolate lovers!”
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