Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Bark That Changed Everything

I have problems. A whole host of them. But lately, my biggest problem is this:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Bark.

Or maybe it's Salted Chocolate Pretzel Caramel Bark?

Pretzel Chocolate Caramel Salted Bark?

(I've got all night here, people.)

All that really matters is that it is pure genius.

Get. The. Heck. In. My. Belly.

It sticks in my teeth and I don't even even mind. I like it.

It's a real, real problem, because, for example, yesterday I started getting a stomachache and I still couldn't quit the party bark.

But here's where the real danger lies:
5 ingredients:
Butter (crap, I always have a box of butter in the freezer box)
Brown Sugar (It lives on my counter. I like it when it clumps up because then it becomes my personal service to eradicate the clumps, if you know what I mean.)
Mini Pretzels (A dolla! Holla.)
Chocolate Chips (A staple of Modern Day Motherhood)
Salt (Does a zebra have stripes?)

It dawned on me that the bark isn't necessarily Christmas candy. There's nary a trace of peppermint. Not a sprinkle to be found. You could probably technically cut it into the shape of a bell or an angel, but I don't want to hear about it if you do.

What it is is All Year Trouble.

I wonder if I'll still have my molars come next year.

EDIT :: I've turned out several batches of soft bark over the past couple years, and I think I finally uncovered the secret last night. Cook the butter and brown sugar until it turns a bit darker and has a fluffy texture. Spread over your pretzels, then put the pan into the oven at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Keep an eye on it! You'll want the surface to be covered in tiny bubbles...but don't burn it! (Been there, done that, too.)

(I'm changing the directions below to reflect these adjustments.)

Party Bark
Line a 4-sided jelly roll pan with foil. Cover with a single layer of pretzels. Melt two sticks of butter in a small saucepan. Add one cup brown sugar and stir together. Boil just a little and keep stirring until it gets darker. *You want to let it cook just to the point that you think you may have ruined everything. That's when the caramelly, sticky magic happens. Pour over pretzels. Bake at 375 for 7ish minutes. Remove from oven and immediately throw your chips on. The heat will melt them, then scrape your rubber spatula over them to spread them around. Sprinkle liberally and generously and graciously and lovingly with sea salt. Cool a bit on the counter. Then pop into the freezer for an hour or until you remember it's in there. Break apart into bite sized (aka fist-sized) pieces. Fall asleep with salty lips. Wake up with bark mouth.