Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Bark

When I started teaching, I got roped into buying for whatever fundraiser the students' sports teams or classes were doing. I've gotten a wallet from Thirty-One, discount cards for restaurants around town, and my favorite kind: food. Frozen cookie dough comes in handy when I want to bake rewards for students on weeknights so I get a couple tubs. Virginia Diner categories are fun to look through as there are always a lot of offers, especially around the holidays. This year I got some peanut brittle squares which are very good and next year, I look forward to getting something different (like the pecan turtles!)

Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Bark

Looking through the category though, I can't help wonder why I haven't tackled making the same things myself. I made it a goal of mine to make my own candies so when I saw how easy this recipe was, I went for it. I haven't gotten really reached my goal, but I think I'm well on my way. I've perfected homemade caramel with this bark recipe. I'm sure there's a more difficult way to make caramel to make it taste even dreamier, but I'm happy with the way this turned out. I love the combination of all the flavors and textures in this bark. I guess the only thing missing is peanut butter since peanut butter and chocolate make the best couple in the world!

Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Bark

This recipe makes a little less than 2 pounds of bark so it certainly makes a lot. I shared this with my students the other day and they loved it. Break this up into small pieces as it can be rich in just one small bite. Enjoy!

Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Bark
From Live Love Pasta

2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 lb bag of mini pretzels (you won’t use the whole bag)
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cover an 11×17 baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place enough pretzels on the prepared baking sheet to form a single, even layer.

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and stir well to incorporate. Allow the brown sugar and butter to simmer and bubble, but do not let it boil. Stir the butter-sugar mixture occasionally. It should take about 3 minutes for the butter and sugar to caramelize, but keep a close eye on it because it will burn quickly.

When the sugar and butter have caramelized, pour the mixture evenly over the pretzels, strafing it back and forth down the length of the sheet. The caramel hardens quickly so it’s important to pour it as evenly and quickly as possible. If there are any clumps, use an offset spatula to spread the caramel as best you can. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Microwave chocolate chips in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the pretzel-caramel mixture, strafing it down the length of the baking sheet just as you did for with the caramel layer. Again, move evenly and quickly. Use an offset spatula to smooth out any clumps or thick spots. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over chocolate before it starts to harden. Allow the baking sheet to harden in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When the bark has cooled and hardened, remove from the fridge and carefully pull the aluminum foil off the back. Break the bark into pieces and serve. Best stored in the refrigerator.

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