March 11, 2013

Pretzel and Salted Caramel Brownies - March Secret Recipe Club

March Secret Recipe Club Post!  I'm so excited to share these salty sweet brownie with you, but first a quick update.  I'm mostly independent with a bit of cast thrown in here and there when I've really over done it.  I am SO HAPPY to be back on my bike, but the rain slash snow has thrown in a bit of complication.  Lost a fight with a curb last week when unlocking the bike, but I think I need one more boot day and I'm back to fighting shape.  Most importantly, I have been able to wear my rainbow of flats again!  Now back to the food...

Just last week, I was sitting at my desk and proclaimed aloud: "I really want something with chocolate and caramel... and pretzel!"  Which naturally led into a conversation about how yogurt covered pretzels are terribly inferior to chocolate covered pretzels.  I mean who would pick chobani over chocolate?  I'm not really a chocolate girl (I know, gah I'm the worst) and I always pick out the pretzels in chex mix but the combo is heavenly for me.  Add salted caramel in the mix?  Perfection.

So when I was digging through the many many recipes over on Colleen's blog Secrets from The Cookie Princess, her pretzel brownies and her salted caramel pretzel bark sounded so great that I thought I would combine them!  Colleen was the first person to ever get me for Secret Recipe Club, which premiered while I was waiting for surgery on my ankle.  It was a lovely post where she put cookie butter into one of my all time faves Nutella Buttermilk Bars.  Not only was it an ingenious swap, but her kind words about my blog and my food put a smile on my face during one of the hardest days of my life.  And to the ladies who were able to shuffle my post around the few days before for the September SRC, thank you again for accommodating this cripple.

Back to the brownies!  I used my new favorite toy, the brownie bite pan.  Those pretzels that look like a checker board fit perfectly into the molds so that you get a salty crunch in every bite.  I really loved Colleen's technique of using semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder or bakers chocolate, will definitely be keeping this in brownie rotation!  A quick caramel with himalayan pink sea salt (Trader Joe's, 3 bucks, just do it!) was adapted from the recent Smitten Kitchen salted caramel brownie.  I sprayed the pan with baking pam, added enough batter to fill the molds halfway, topped with a generous chunk of caramel, and finished with a pretzel on top to keep it crispy.  I'm a texture girl, I needed the crunch!

The resulting brownies are fudgy, chewy from the caramel, and salty-sweet with the crunch of pretzel.  All in all, one of my favorite desserts I have ever made.  Sorry, Nigella, your bacon brownies have been beat!  Thanks, Colleen, for the inspiration!

And for a little more inspiration, here are the rest of the B group recipes!  Happy SRC Monday!

Pretzel and Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from Secrets from the Cookie Princess and Smitten Kitchen
For the Caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cream
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of himalayan pink sea salt to taste (plus more for sprinkling)

For the Brownies:
1 + 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
checkerboard pretzels (1 per brownie)
chunks of caramel (about 1/2 teaspoon ball per brownie)

To start, make the caramel.  First, prepare either a plate or a large plastic container by spraying with a little bit of baking spray.  Line with parchment paper and begin to make the caramel.

In a dry pan, melt the sugar over medium low heat without stirring until you start to see the edges liquify.  Be sure to break up any chunks, then lower the heat and add the butter and sea salt.  Once the butter has been incorporated, add the cream and bring back to a low simmer for another minute.

Pour into the prepared plate/container and let cool for a minute or two before letting harden in the freezer.  You should be able to use the caramel in about 20-30 minutes.

For the brownies, begin by preparing a double boiler (small sauce pan with simmering water with a heat proof bowl on top).  Add the chocolate chips and the butter and let the two melt together.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars.  Add the eggs one at a time and finish with the vanilla and salt.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Prepare the pan by spraying lightly with baking spray.  Fill the molds halfway with the brownie batter, drop a dollop of the cooled caramel on top and finish with a pretzel.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes at 325 F.  Let cool for a minute or two and gently pop out of the pan.  Serve with a tall glass of milk and enjoy!


  1. Yay! This sounds like a delicious twist on regular pretzel brownies morphed with the bark. And I love that pan--perfect portions (no one needs to know how many portions you eat!). Thanks for the kind words--glad you enjoyed my blog.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    These are really special Brownies, they look delicious! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.
    Miz Helen

  3. Can you box them up and send me a dozen? They look amazing! Great SRC choice!

    1. uhhh can i? cannot have these in the house... lol

  4. Sarah these are literally 3 of my favorite things, oh my goodness I NEED these!

  5. I'm a sweet/salty freak and must try this recipe. I'm glad to hear the pretzel held up and didn't get soggy. Nice to meet you through SRC Sarah.

    1. I tried it first on the bottom but they came out soft, i was so nervous they were going to burn but the lower baking temperature and caramel must have protected them a bit? Oh well, they worked and that's all that matters!

      Nice to meet you too, Lea Ann!

  6. Genius. Pure. Freaking. Genius. I love that you combined the two flavors. And can I just say how cute they are from the brownie bites pan?? Super awesome job. Pinning these now to make soon.

  7. These look over-the-top delicious, and I'm not really into sweets. Chocolate, caramel and pretzel brownies could convert me. Pinning these for sure!

  8. Delicious and I love your little squares pan, just perfect!

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my group 'A' SRC entry Loaded Potato Soup.


  9. These look amazing. What kind of pan did you use and where did you find it?! I have to have one! What a deliciously decadent looking mini treat! Thanks for sharing... stopping by from SRC Group A <3 Beth

    1. It is one of the gold pans from williams and sonoma here:

      i'm saving up for the mini cupcake ones! my old ones are so tired lol

  10. I guess I haven’t read such unique material anywhere else online.

  11. love these!!! I have never been able to get anything in those brownie pans to come out right -- you are cooler than me! Salty sweet is the way to go!!

    1. the real secret? the gold plated pans from williams sonoma. It may be a little bit more but with just a little grease everything pops out! Plus you can put them in the dishwasher so there's that lol

      now if they'll only make brownie bite liners… i'm sure you could fashion something out of parchment paper if you were in a pinch!


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