Sunday, April 13, 2014

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite. A simple, classic cookie that everyone instantly recognizes and loves. Perfectly soft, chewy, and super chocolatey. 

This is one of those someone-hide-these-from-me-immediately desserts. After quite a bit of quality control, I was able to send these packing to my mom and sister.

I may or may not have left a couple hiding somewhere in the kitchen.
I doctored these up by making them into bars, throwing in some crushed pretzels and toffee pieces...oh and of course adding some whiskey caramel to top it all off. The salted caramel just finishes the bar off perfectly and gives it the perfect level of gooeyness. I could seriously put this stuff on anything and it would be amazing!

These cookie bars on their own don’t taste super boozy. The caramel layer brings a nice kick of whiskey, but it isn’t over-powering, just a nice addition to the sweet, salty, and chocolatey flavor from the bars.

Whiskey Caramel Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
For the cookie layer:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/4 cup toffee pieces (I used Heath)

For the whiskey caramel:

1/2 cup whiskey
1 14 oz bag of soft caramels unwrapped (I used Kraft)
1/2 tsp sea salt

For the chocolate layer:

1 cup chocolate chips
1 tbs butter

For the topping:

16 whole salted pretzels

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking pan or line with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars. Add the egg and yolk, mixing until smooth and well-combined. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt over the wet ingredients and use a spatula to fold together until just incorporated with no streaks of dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips, pretzels, and toffee.

Spread dough into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden and crisp and the inside feels set. Cool.

For the caramel:
While the bars are baking, combine the whiskey and caramels in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until caramels have melted completely and the whiskey is mixed in. Cook until you reach the softball stage (240 degrees F), which is about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should have reduced a bit. Spread over cookie bars.

For the chocolate:

Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 20 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. DO NOT OVERHEAT. 

Spread over the caramel layer and top with pretzels - sticking them into the melted chocolate. Let bars cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.

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