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!