Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cubicle kitchen: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bark

There's something about the addition of salt that takes sweet to a whole other level.  In the case of this week's office treat, it took it from casually licking the spoon to ravenously scraping the cookie sheet for every last ounce of this salty sugar crack.

I've already admitted that my baking is often a way for me to enact a little kitchen stash busting, using up pantry items which might otherwise go to waste.  This week, I had a box of Pretzel Thins and this handy dandy recipe from Tina at My Life as a Mrs.  She used Pretzel Crisps as opposed to Pretzel Thins, but these are clone products, so no difference there.

So basically, brown sugar and butter are melted together and poured over pretzels which have been laid out on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil that's been sprayed.  That bakes for a little while to continue developing the toffee/caramel, and then chocolate chips go on top, melt with the residual heat, and are spread evenly across.

One actual difference is one I'm a little ashamed to admit.  The same way you should measure twice and cut once in home improvement, you really should make sure you have all of the recipe's listed ingredients before you start cooking.  Especially when it's a 5-ingredient recipe, for goodness' sake.  How was I to anticipate that I didn't actually have a bag of chocolate chips?  Thankfully, it was a happy accident, because I did have a bag of Reese's peanut butter chips.  Along with that, I had some of those solid milk chocolate mini-eggs from the candy clearance aisles, so those were chopped up just for good measure.

Spreading the melting chips wasn't a very pretty business, I wasn't sure I was doing the 'right' thing and that everything would stick together.  But I diligently kept going, and put it into the fridge to set up.  Even after a night in the fridge, it still wasn't as bark-like as Tina's was, so I used the same trick I do with fudge, which is to start cutting (or breaking in this case) apart and sit the pieces upside down to dry/harden.  This helped to get the caramel a little less gooey.  It's still not quite in the fully-hardened state I had imagined, but it's certainly stable and not melty anymore, just sticky to the touch.  Not sure if that's because I used margarine rather than butter, or if I didn't heat the sugar and margarine mixture enough, but it's still darned tasty.  And all remaining goo was thoroughly enjoyed by myself, huddled over the cookie sheet in the kitchen losing all sense of restraint in the face of the pure desire for sugar.

Given it's power over me there, I was pretty sure that no one would mind that these don't look like prize-winning beauties:
The mix of salty and sweet, chocolatey and peanut buttery is definitely a winner in terms of taste, and no one cares how it looks. Some people have declared it to be my best baking achievement so far.  I feel confident saying that it is at least the most addictive.

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