Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Delights

Chocolate caramel pretzel delights.

Chocolate caramel pretzel delights.

With Valentine’s Day coming up I decided to try out this recipe that came to my attention over the Christmas holidays, but I never got around to making it.  It is a very easy candy treat that you can make up so quickly it takes hardly any time at all.  Give them as gifts, or keep for yourself.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the sweetness of chocolate and caramel combined with the saltiness of pretzels.    Sooo good!

Serve your treats for Valentine's Day.

Serve your treats for Valentine’s Day.

For these I used pretzels that look like the shape of a heart as the base, but you could use round pretzels, or lattice pretzels, just not long straight ones.  You also need some kind of chocolate covered caramel candy, such as Rolo or similar, and pecan halves. ( Walnut halves would be ok, too).  These chewy little treats are a lot like turtle candies.

Here’s how to make them….

 CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PRETZEL DELIGHTS

Yield:    Make as many as you want.

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 350*F.   Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

2.  Place one pretzel for each treat desired on the prepared sheet.   Top each pretzel with one chocolate caramel candy.

Lay out pretzels on a baking sheet, top each one with a candy.

Lay out pretzels on a baking sheet, top each one with a candy.

3.  Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until candy piece begins to soften, but not melt.

Bake until softened, but not melted.

Bake until softened, but not melted.

Remove from the oven.  Top each with a pecan half and press down lightly.

Top each one with a pecan half.

Top each one with a pecan half.

Cool completely before serving or packaging.

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SOURCE:    Celebrate with Hersheys.comIMG_6172

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Grilled Peach Cobbler

Grilled Peach Cobbler

Grilled Peach Cobbler

As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not done with fresh peaches yet.  This recipe was #1 on my list of peach recipes that I still am  anxious to try before the season is over.   With the holiday weekend just past, when we were using the outdoor grill anyway,  I decided to make this peach cobbler, and cook it on the grill.   This was so easy, and I didn’t have to turn on my oven.

Crushed pretzels add to the crunch of the topping.

Crushed pretzels add to the crunch of the topping.

Most cobblers are topped with a biscuit, or a crumb topping using oatmeal with the flour and brown sugar, but this recipe uses crushed pretzels instead.  That plus the addition of caramel ice cream topping with the peaches, makes for an interesting combination; sweetness and salty all rolled into one delicious bite.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for me, one that I’ll be making again.  Oh, and when grilling season is over you can just as easily bake it in the oven, and use frozen, unsweetened peaches.  A very versatile recipe, indeed.

Make it really sinful and add some ice cream.  :D

Make it really sinful and add some ice cream. 😀

Full disclaimer:   Don’t say I didn’t warn you–this recipe is NOT low cal, low carb, low fat, a dieter’s dream or gluten-free.  What it is is just plain awesome !

GRILLED PEACH COBBLER

Yield:   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 5  medium fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced, or 5 cups frozen unsweetened peach slices, thawed.

    Cutting up the peaches.

    Cutting up the peaches.

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 3/4 cup coarsely crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup butter

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, combine peaches, granulated sugar, lemon juice, tapioca, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.  Place this mixture in a 2-quart foil baking pan (to cook on the grill), or a similar  size baking dish if oven baking.

Pour peach mixture into baking pan.

Pour peach mixture into baking pan.

Drizzle the 1/3 cup caramel topping over the peaches in the pan.  Cover tightly with foil if baking on the grill, otherwise leave uncovered.

Pour caramel topping over the peaches.

Pour caramel topping over the peaches.

2.  Make topping:  In a medium bowl stir together crushed pretzels, brown sugar, and flour.  Using a pastry cutter, your fingers or a fork, work in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.   Refrigerate until read to use.

Work the butter into the flour-pretzel mixture.

Work the butter into the flour-pretzel mixture.

3.   To cook on a grill:   Preheat grill.   Reduce heat to medium.  Adjust for indirect cooking, ( one side lit, one side off).  Place foil pan on grill rack over the burner that is turned off.  Cover and grill for 30 minutes.   Uncover foil pan.  Sprinkle topping evenly over peach mixture.  Cover grill; cook for 10 to 15 minutes more or until mixture is bubbly and topping is light brown.

Sprinkle crumb topping over partially cooked peaches.

Sprinkle crumb topping over partially cooked peaches.

4.  To oven bake:  Place baking dish with peach mixture in the oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until peaches are tender.  Top with crumb topping and bake for an additional  15 minutes, till topping is brown and bubbly.

Topping gets browned and crunchy..

Topping gets browned and crunchy..

To serve:   top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with a little more caramel topping.

Soooo Good!

Soooo Good!

SOURCE:  Better Homes and Gardens.com

Salted Pretzel Marshmallow Bars

Salted Pretzel Marshmallow Bars

Salted Pretzel Marshmallow Bars

There are so many words to describe these bars I hardly know where to start.  Chewy?  most definitely.  Crispy?  yup, when you bite into a pretzel piece.  Sweet?  well, of course, they are dessert bars after all.  Salty?  yes, a little.  You can thank the pretzels for that too.  And where do I fit in the experience of biting into a gooey melted marshmallow with drizzles of  peanut butter and dark chocolate?      Do you get the picture, here?  There’s so much going on with these bars words can’t do them justice.  You’ll just have to make them for yourself to see what I mean.

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I’m thankful the recipe only makes a 9-inch square pan of these goodies. One square is just enough to satisfy without feeling guilty and makes portion control so much easier.  Even better, bars are so easy to share!  I’ll be willing to bet that if you do decide to share these, you’ll get requests for the recipe.

SALTED PRETZEL MARSHMALLOW BARSIMG_4349

Yield:  16 squares

For the bars:

  • 1  1/2 cups broken pretzel pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1  1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •  2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 8 marshmallows, halved horizontally
  • 1/4  cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350*F.   Line a 9 – inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 2 – inch overhang on all sides.  Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

2.  Pulse 1 cup pretzel pieces in a food processor until finely ground ( you should have about 1/2 cup crumbs).  Transfer to a bowl.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.

3.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  (or in the microwave)  Stir in the brown sugar.  Let cool slightly, then stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Stir the pretzel crumb mixture into the butter mixture in two additions.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

Mixing in the dry ingredients.

4.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup pretzel pieces on top.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few crumbs, 25 – 30 minutes.  Let cool completely in the pan on a rack, then ligt the foil to remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a baking sheet.

After baking, just out of the oven.

After baking, just out of the oven.

5.  Preheat the broiler.  Press the marshmallow halves, cut-side down, in even rows on top of the bars.  Broil, rotating the baking sheet as needed, until the marshmallows are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes;  let cool.

6.  Put the peanut butter chips and 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a microwave-safe cup or small bowl and microwave in 30 – second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth.  Repeat with the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in another bowl.  Drizzle the melted peanut butter and chocolate mixtures over the bars.  Let harden at room temperature or chill to set before cutting.

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SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine

Brown Butter White Chocolate Pretzel Blondies

Brown Butter Blondies with White Chocolate M & M’s and Pretzels

I do believe I’m becoming a convert to blondies.  I used to think they were sort of second-rate to “real” brownies.  But since early Spring when I first started writing this blog,  I’ve found three recipes for blondies, all of which appealed to me enough to want to make them.

I’ve been saving this recipe since late winter/early spring when it was featured for Easter using pastel colored M & M’s.  My thought at the time was that it could easily be adapted to any time of year just by changing the M & M’s.  So this past week, when I saw white chocolate M & M’s on display for Halloween I grabbed them and thought “now is the time to try that recipe”.

These squares are so easy and quick to make– mixed by hand, no need to get out your mixer–and so pretty to serve with the colorful M & M’s.  They taste a little salty from the pretzels, have crunch from the  pretzels and candy, and the browned butter provides a nutty background flavor to all of it.   My only concern about these bars is related to the salt content.  Unsalted butter is not specified but I would recommend it, since the pretzels add salt and the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  If you use salted butter, cut back the added salt to 1/4 teaspoon, since browning the butter adds to its saltiness.

BROWN BUTTER WHITE CHOCOLATE PRETZEL BLONDIES

SERVINGS:   24 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, browned and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pretzels, crushed
  • 1 cup white chocolate M & M’s ( or white chocolate chips)

Browned Butter

1.  Begin by browning your butter.  Use a light colored pan rather than one with a dark interior, so you can see the color change in the butter.  Allow the butter to melt over low heat,  once melted raise heat to medium and let butter cook, watching it all the while for a color change to golden brown.  This can take from 2-3 minutes, but it will happen quickly.  Remove from the heat at that point, otherwise it will burn.  Allow to cool.

2.  Crush the pretzels:  Place in a zip-lock bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet.  They will be a variety of sizes. Break some of the larger pieces with your hands.  Large pretzel pieces will make it difficult to cut the squares, but you don’t want them to be all crumbs either.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 13″ x 9″ pan with foil, and spray the foil with non-stick spray.

4.  In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients.

5.  In a large bowl, mix butter with brown sugar, stirring until all the sugar is saturated with the butter.  Add eggs and vanilla, stir to combine well.

6.  Fold in dry ingredients using a spatula.  Don’t overmix.

7.  Add in pretzels and white chocolate M & M’s and stir to distribute.

8.  Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes.  The top will be shiny and somewhat crackled.  A toothpick should test clean.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Ready for the Oven.

Out of the Oven.

     

SOURCE:   Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipes

Ballroom Dancing and Brownies

A few dancers on the floor.

I need to start getting myself geared up and thinking like a competitor. November is not so far away, when I will be out there on the dance floor dancing my heart out for the judges. That’s pretty much why I’m following my current diet plan. Besides that, I need to get totally immersed in ballroom dancing, and step up to the training that’s involved when I compete. When I’m not thinking about foods and cooking (and writing about it), I’m involved with my dance lessons. I take two private lessons and attend group classes –as many as I can manage–in a week. But that’s my usual routine. I will be increasing my lessons to 3/week and trying to get in as much dancing as I can to increase my tolerance and stamina. It’s a matter of really ramping up my activity level, working hard and keeping focused. Ballroom dancing is like any sport, needing strong muscles, balance, rhythm, and being aware of every part of your body as well as being in top physical condition. If you watched any of the Olympic athletes, I’m sure you have an appreciation for that.

The ladies’ gowns are so beautiful.

Well this past weekend I took some time out to attend a local, regional competition just to watch the dancers and to attend the banquet at the end of it all. There’s nothing like a competition to get you in the mood for competing. It’s a friendly environment with all the dancers supporting each other and people like me cheering them on. One thing I know about dancing is that it makes you hungry, and snacks as a source of energy, for those who are dancing, are always welcome. So I baked some brownies to bring along.

I’m not sure if my idea for these brownies is original or if I perhaps read about using pretzels with brownies in one of the many blogs I read, or some other source, but I did not have a recipe. What I did have was a package of peanut butter filled pretzels, so I decided to incorporate them into a nice fudgey brownie, ice the brownies with chocolate peanut butter ganache and put more pretzels on top. More is always better with me, as in: “you can never have too much of a good thing”. And when it comes to anything chocolate usually peanut butter is a good companion. I must confess that in this instance I took a shortcut and used a boxed brownie mix. Ghirardelli Brownie Mix is absolutely the best!

Another view of the dance floor.

PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL BROWNIES

SERVINGS: 30

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ pan.

Prepare the brownie mix as the package directs for fudge brownies.

Crush about 1 cup of peanut butter filled pretzel bites, keeping some of the pieces large. ( mine were Clancy’s brand ) The easiest way to do this is put the pretzels in a zip-lock bag and pound lightly with a meat tenderizer, or rolling pin.

Pour half the brownie batter in the pan, sprinkle on the cup of pretzels, cover with the remaining brownie batter. Bake as directed on the package.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan. Ice with chocolate peanut butter ganache. Cut the brownies into squares ( 5 across by 6 down), and place one whole pretzel on top of each one.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER GANACHE

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 & 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch salt

1. Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.

2. Combine cream, peanut butter and salt over low heat. Stir until smooth. Increase heat to medium-low and, stirring constantly, heat until bubbles form along the edges of the pan.

3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. The chips will become all melty like. Gently whisk the chocolate chips until the mixture is shiny and combined. Stop mixing when the mixture is combined or it will become kind of grainy. Let the ganache sit to thicken up a bit to spreading consistency. You can put it in the refrigerator, or place over a bowl of ice to speed this up if you are in a hurry.

4. Spread the ganache with an off-set spatula. Hide any left over ganache in the back of the refrigerator, because you will want to eat it with a spoon!