Salted Caramel Pretzel Crunch Bars

Ingredients:

  • 10 Tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp or 145g) unsalted butter, slightly soft (see important note!)1
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (141g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) salted caramel sauce (the full recipe)
  • 1 cup (50-60g) chopped pretzels
  • 6 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate (or 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips)2
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • optional: sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar, salt, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until crumbly. Get your hands in there to make the dough come together. Press tightly into prepared pan. Press pretzel pieces evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding the caramel (I stick it in the refrigerator to speed this up).
  3. Prepare caramel and wait for it to cool until it slightly thickens. Pour/spoon over crust. Allow to cool and set completely before topping with chocolate. Again, I stick it in the refrigerator to speed it up.
  4. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 15 second increments, stopping and stirring until completely melted. Pour over cooled caramel. Top with sea salt. Stick in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  5. Lift the parchment paper out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Make ahead tip: There are many ways to start ahead on this recipe. You can prepare and bake the crust through step 2 a day or 2 ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator until ready for the caramel. You can also prepare the caramel a day or 2 ahead of time. Warm it just until it is spreadable (but not totally liquid), then pour over crust and allow to set. Continue with step 4. Prepared bars can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before enjoying.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Butter that is too soft could ruin the crust. I always let butter sit out of the refrigerator for only about 10 minutes when making this crust. It's still a little firm and cold, but that is what you want for a shortbread-like crust.
  2. If using chocolate chips in the chocolate layer, melt down with 1 teaspoon of oil so it thins out and is easy to pour and spread. Careful melting in the microwave. Stop every 15 seconds to stir until melted. You can even melt it down with 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter for an extra dose of delicious.

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