It seems like I just posted the roundup for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and it’s already time for another installment of Dinner and a Movie. Where does the time go?!?! This month’s DaaM is being hosted by my co-host Marc from No Recipes, and the film he chose is the 1987 blockbuster, Wall Street, directed by Oliver Stone and starring, Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.
Wall Street is a super slick, wickedly intelligent thinking person’s movie that has come to epitomize the blatant excess that was the 1980’s. The movie features Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a wealthy, unscrupulous, megalomaniacal corporate raider and Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox, a young stockbroker desperate to make it big. Fox plots to get Gekko as a client, feeding him insider information. Gekko pounces on said information and in return takes Fox under his wing and on a wild ride in the ultra-capitalist world of hostile takeovers, insider trading, and corporate raiding. Soon, Bud is living the high life and halfway through the movie, you just know this all isn’t going to bode well in the end for him! But, I won’t spoil the fun. You’ll have to watch the movie for yourself to see how it all shakes out.
Ah, the Eighties – that happy little decade between social activism and self-loathing grunge. It was full of big business, big dreams and big hair! The mantra of the day was “Less is more, but more is better.” Nobody worried too much about tomorrow because they were all to busy seizing the day. Decadence was not only accepted, but encouraged! As Gordon Gekko so eloquently put it, “Greed is good.”
In honor of Wall Street and the Eighties, my contribution for this month’s DaaM oozes decadence. It also oozes chocolate and caramel. I’m talking about homemade 100 Grand Bars!
The 100 Grand Bar, originally known as the $100,000 Bar, is a candy bar introduced by Nestlé in 1966. The name was changed to “100 Grand” in 1985. (Very a propos!) It consists of a chewy caramel center enrobed in a combination of rick milk chocolate and crisped rice. When I was a kid, this was my favorite candy bar. I’d trade you ten Snickers for one 100 Grand!
When deciding what to make for this DaaM installment, the idea of recreating these bars kept popping into my head. Wall Street is a movie about greed and excess. It’s also a movie about money – lots of it. I couldn’t help thinking that 100 Grand bars would be the perfect representation of these things, both literally and figuratively.
To create my bars, I first had to make some caramel. I chose a recipe that I had been wanting to try for several months. Last November, the Daring Bakers made Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. An optional part of the challenge was to make Alice Medrich’s wonderful Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from her book, Pure Dessert. I wasn’t able to make them then, but I had the perfect opportunity to make them now. And, I did.
I had made homemade caramels once before, with limited success, but I was psyched to try these. Medrich’s recipe calls for golden syrup instead of regular old corn syrup. Golden syrup is a popular sweetener in the UK, and is also sometimes called light treacle. It is a thick, amber-colored form of inverted sugar syrup, made in the process of refining sugar cane juice into sugar. Golden syrup is used in a variety of desserts and is also delicious poured over pancakes or waffles. The recipe also calls for ground whole vanilla beans, which I found very interesting.
When I made the caramel, I divided the batch in two, reserving one half for the candy bars and transforming the rest into salted butter caramels. Let me tell you here and now, these were the best caramels I have ever eaten! Really! They were absolutely marvelous! If you ever decide to make homemade caramels, you have got to try this recipe.
Anyway, I rolled the caramel for the bars into logs about 3-inches long and 1-inch in diameter. Then I let them chill until very firm. After that, I dipped them into a pool of melted chocolate mixed with crushed Rice Krispies, and set them under the air conditioning vent in my kitchen until they were set. You do have to temper the chocolate for these bars in order for them to have a shiny, smooth finish. I don’t know how successful I was with this because I didn’t think my bars were all that shiny. I’m thinking that maybe adding the Rice Krispies might have had something to do with this. It didn’t matter much because my 100 Grand Bars were so phenomenally good! They tasted just like the store bought ones, only amped up to the nth degree. (Somehow, I don’t think that Nestlé uses Guittard milk chocolate in theirs!)
If you’ve never made homemade candy bars before, I urge you to give it a try. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It was very, very messy – but not hard. These 100 Grand Bars are so worth the effort, but if they’re not your style, there is a great article on Chow all about making your favorite candy bars. It’s called “Make Your Own Candy Bars” and has recipes for copycat versions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, Snickers and more.
Homemade 100 Grand Bars
- 1/2 batch Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, cut into 3 x 1 inch logs and chilled (recipe follows)
- 1 pound good quality milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups crisped ice cereal, slightly crushed
- Melt and temper chocolate. (A good tutorial for tempering chocolate can be found here.) Gently mix in crisped rice cereal until thoroughly coated.
- Dip each caramel log into the chocolate mixture and coat completely. Using a fork, remove and place each on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Allow to set until hard.
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
- 1 cup golden syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
A 9-inch square baking pan
- Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heal until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.
- When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.
- Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. For 100 Grand Bars, cut the caramels into 3 x 1 inch logs with an oiled knife. Place on a sheet of wax paper and chill several hours until very firm.