Sunday, December 15, 2013

Memories….Old and New

Snow on the ground, pine in the air and Christmas lights everywhere!!! How can this not be one of the best times of the year. So many parties, friends and time with family. Holiday Seasons always make me reflect on days of the past. Great memories with my grandmothers in the kitchen to game nights and dinners with family. 

While memories of the past make me thankful, I also enjoy being able to experience all of the new memories currently being made. Dinners with new friends, trips to tree farms, holiday symphonies, passing on game nights to children…the list goes on and on and I hope for the rest of December new memories continue. Life has changed a lot this year and I am thankful for every moment. I am excited to slow down and take in as much of it as possible.

What are some of your favorite Holiday Memories?? 

Every holiday season I get so lost in recipes of things to bake. Will it be cakes, tarts, pies? There are so many options. Chocolate, pecans, apple, vanilla….what to try?! I needed to come up with a cookie recipe for a party but didn't want the standard options. I wanted something traditional but with a twist.  So I offer you Caramel Pretzel Shortbread Bars. This is a great twist from caramel and peanuts. 

I wish you the best for the Holiday Season!!

Caramel Pretzel Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Saveur

1¼ C Unbleached Flour
¼ Tsp. Salt
½ C Unsalted Butter, softened
⅓ C Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Vanilla

¾ C Unsalted Butter
1¼ C Light Brown Sugar
¼ C Honey
¼ C Maple Syrup
¼ Tsp Salt
1 C Heavy Cream

6 C (about 9 oz.) Small Pretzel Twists, lightly broken up


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°.

Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper, folding paper up and over the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt, and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla, change speed to low, and add the flour-salt mixture. Mix until crumbly, 10-15 seconds. Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the parchment-lined pan, and prick dough all over with a fork. Bake 15-18 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Make the caramel: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and salt. Stir regularly until mixture is foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted into the caramel registers 240°F (soft ball stage), about 11 minutes. Add the crushed pretzels and quickly incorporate into the caramel.

Pour the pretzel-caramel mixture over the baked shortbread, spreading the mixture evenly. Return to the oven until the topping is bubbling, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Remove from the baking pan by lifting the edges of the parchment paper; unfold the paper and slice into bars.

Serve immediately, or bars will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.