How's Bayou? My Magnificent Obsession
Editor's note: With Easter almost upon us, thoughts turn to ... Elmer's Goldbrick Eggs. In New Orleans, this gold-wrapped, pecan-with-meltaway-chocolate candy bar invented in 1936 by the city's own Elmer Chocolate company, is the quintessential Easter treat. To get your tastebuds salivating in anticipation of the bunny's visit, we repost this column by Keith Marshall, originally published at Easter 2013. It explains the author's obsession with recreating Elmer's Gold Brick Sauce.
I'd like to blame it all on the 1954 tearjerker Magnificent Obsession, starring Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson and Agnes Moorehead, that I encountered on a Saturday outing with my parents when I was just 8 years old.
The storyline didn't make much sense to me -- something about a guy getting a girl in an accident, then becoming a doctor and years later restoring her eyesight; but I emerged invigorated into the broad daylight, convinced that latching onto a big idea and running with it to extremes is a most-excellent idea.
That may explain why I've moved four historic buildings to Madewood to save them -- resulting in a friend claiming I was operating a used-house lot. But each of them is now firmly woven into the fabric of Madewood. Rosedale, converted several years ago into a little opera house with architectural elements I'd assiduously collected and hoarded through the years, is being further adapted to accommodate dinners and dances, the updated version in the manner of the Old French Opera House in the Vieux Carre which was converted into a venue for Carnival balls until its flaming demise in 1919.
But that was nothing to the obsession that imprisoned me body and soul last week: to provide Millie with a cupboardful of Elmer's Gold Brick Sauce without having to order jars of it, as she'd done, at what I considered an exorbitant price.
Regular chocolate sauce, you see, just won't do, as it doesn't harden into a crunchy blanket of excess when ladled over super-chilled vanilla ice cream. Call it the pursuit of excellence; nothing else will do for my wife, a woman whose body is still inhabited by the soul of a little red-haired girl who can't get enough chocolate.
I planned this strange lark with the precision of a demented lab technician: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream cups as sugary Petri dishes for the delicate experiment, a ramekin just the right size, and an economy-sized three-pack of Goldbrick Eggs, purchased at full price on Palm Sunday.
I gingerly lifted the lid of the cup to give the ice cream time to breathe while the three chocolate eggs, cradled in the ramekin, melted in exactly 43 seconds in a 1,000-watt microwave oven.
Perfection! I thought, as I carefully ladled the molten liquid, using a tablespoon for precision, into the cup and watched the physical reaction take place.
I was thrilled; but Millie, Goldilocks style, found it "not quite right." Was this how Dr. Jekyll felt the first time around? Did Mary Shelley initially not get the bolts just right on Frankenstein? Had Alexander Fleming surmised that penicillin mold would only be good to produce a more gourmet-enticing Roquefort?
I couldn't let such worthy predecessors down.
So it was that I found myself at the Donaldsonville Walgreen's the day after Easter. I figured that if any Goldbrick Eggs were left, I could scoop up a handful at half price.
Land o' Goshen! There before my eyes was the Promised Land: shelves groaning with boxes of 24 individual large eggs; others holding 24 three-packs. And bite-size Goldbrick nibbles!
I was woozy with the thrill of the chase and began trading tips with young women in, yes, pedal-pusher pants-- marrains in loose-fitting gingham, and parrains sporting belts just inches below their necks.
"You know you can put Nutella on ice cream, don't you?" a woman with a shopping basket full of half-price marshmallow chicken Peeps, countered my pathetic explanation for my own Goldbrick-laden cart. "I even put it on these sometimes," she sighed, tossing her head back like those statues of St. Theresa of Avila in Ecstasy.
"But it won"t harden into an almost-impenetrable crust," I parried, feeling like a sweet-foods connoisseur from Sucre, or Laduree in Paris.
She snapped out of her trance, and another woman pulled her children away from me. I felt like an interloper in a bizarre episode of Real Housewives of Donaldsonville.
I pushed the cart nonchalantly toward the register and lolled casually as the stunned woman called for a supervisor to do an override. Apparently no one had ever bought this much candy at one time, and the register was stymied.
$81.61 of steeply-discounted Goldbrick Easter Eggs filled one bag after another, as others looked on in disbelief. The little girl who'd been dragged away from me in the aisle began to wail uncontrollably. I bolted through the front door, threw the loot into the car, and sped off.
I carefully rethought the process and recalculated the lab procedure as I approached Madewood. Think big, I told myself.
So a dozen eggs went into a crock, and melted perfectly in the microwave after precisely two minutes. Eureka!
Millie's still not convinced. But those eggs would have cost $223.17 at regular price. And, measured by melted volume, Millie would have had to spend $687.12 (shipping and handling included) for the same amount of factory-produced sauce.
I've enrolled her in my remedial Improvised Goldbrick Sauce class, imparting skills that will last her a lifetime.
The same timeframe in which the heavenly stash, with my assistance, will be depleted.
How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.
How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.