The Candy Bar Factory – Round 1
Guess what? I’m on the board or directors for a nonprofit company called Party Corps. What is Party Corps, you say? Well, we like to throw parties! Parties that generate cash for other nonprofits in San Francisco. This Saturday is our third party and will be benefiting The Women’s Community Clinic. Of course, my participation in the company means I get to do what I do best – feed people! The last party was for outreach in Africa, so I made African donuts. This time, I’m going retro. I’ve decided to recreate classic candy bars, but without all the nasty preservatives and artificial flavors. So my first mission: Whatchamacallit bars! This was my personal favorite candy bar when I was a kid (or adult, but who’s keeping track?). I was so excited to make them that I broke my #1 budget rule and ran out and bought a cookbook new instead of waiting to find it used at Green Apple. The book was “Baked – New Frontiers in Baking” and I highly recommend it. They don’t actually call this a Whatchamacallit in the book, but that’s wht it is. So. Let us begin…
I started by pouring my puffed rice in a large bowl.
Then I made a sugar syrup. Once it reached 235 on a thermometer, I stirred in some butter.
I poured that syrup over the puffed rice and mixed it together. Then I pressed the rice into a buttered pan.
While that was cooling I started on the next layer: peanut butter and milk chocolate.
I melted them together into gooey bowl of deliciousness.
ANd poured that on top of the puffed rice.
I spread it out all nice and smooth and popped it into the fridge to firm up.
Once that firmed up I melted some chocolate and butter to top it with.
I spread that around and put it back in the fridge to set up some more.
Then I wait and wait and FINALLY! I get to slice them into cute little bite-size squares!
So pretty! And they totally taste like Whatchamacallits! 35 down, 365 to go!
For the crispy crust
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted (their recommendation) or salted (what I used, and liked) butter, melted
For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk (their recommendation) or semi-sweet (what I’d use next time) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.
Cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.