Last week felt like fall. Outside, the air was cold and smelled of wood and ash- the kind of smell that reminds me of staring at friends across the glow of a fire, their faces all dancing with reds and yellows and golds from the flames. Those early bits of fall are always a welcome change of season from the relentless summers we experience in Alabama, but as soon as that first cold hits, my heart longs for the holidays. I dream of Thanksgiving hams and Christmas carols; I want Nat King Cole on my radio and peppermint babka in my oven. Fall starts and I immediately crave the flavors and sights and sounds that come with the holidays.
It’s not so much the holidays themselves as it is the feelings that they bring. I love the connection and joy that is inspired by time spent around a big table crowded with the faces of people I love. Gratitude, while accessible all year round, feels so tangible and easy to express during a time of year centered around just that- thanksgiving. Every year as the holidays approach, I do my best to soak up all the goodness as it starts trickling in, but often schedules, shopping lists, and dinner parties come between me and (what should be) a time of year when all is calm, all is bright. I want to change that.
This year, let’s spend less time fussing and more time loving. Let’s shy away from the grind and the work and the stress of the holidays and ease into observing the moment. Maybe we could use this season to sow into the people we love and decide to simplify the rest. Let’s make it easier on ourselves.
I’m starting in the kitchen. There’s no reason to go overboard on fussy menus (read: extravagant desserts) when delicious, indulgent treats can made quite easily. Take for instance these pretzel millionaire bars. A buttery pretzel shortbread crust topped with a gooey caramel filling and rich chocolate ganache, these pretzel millionaire bars are sweet and salty bites of goodness that can be made with few ingredients and in a short amount of time. Need to bring a dessert to your Friendsgiving party? Pretzel millionaire bars. Want to pack up some sweets as a gift for your neighbor? Pretzel millionaire bars. Decadence is only but a few minutes away when you’ve got a recipe like this on hand.
To make the bars, we start with the pretzel shortbread crust. Combine crumbled pretzels with flour, brown sugar, and some ice-cold butter and press the sandy mixture into the bottom of a square baking dish. Pop the crust in the oven while you get going on the caramel filling.
Although I typically employ a homemade caramel recipe, these bars keep it decadent and simple by using Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. Combine the milky nectar with butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook it until the mixture has thickened, darkened slightly, and caramelized. That gooey goodness is spread over top of the shortbread crust and allowed to chill.
Once the bars have cooled, a rich, two-ingredient chocolate ganache comes next, prepared by stirring together warm cream and chopped chocolate. The ganache gets spread all over the cooled caramel and is garnished with a few more pretzels or a sprinkle of salt. Truly, if there’s anything more delicious than the sweet and salty combination of pretzels, caramel, and chocolate, I don’t want to know.
I’m sharing this recipe as part of Eagle Brand’s “UnCookie” exchange that they have launched to keep our holidays sweet and fuss-free. Treats like these pretzel millionaire bars are simple to make and fun to serve, leaving you with less time spent in the kitchen and more moments shared with the people you love. While planning your holiday menus this year, be sure to remember these bars and the many other UnCookie recipes that can be found right here. Enjoy these next few months and don’t forget to treat yo’ self to some UnCookies.
This post was sponsored by Eagle Brand. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that make Wood and Spoon possible!
If you like these pretzel millionaire bars, be sure to check out:
Pretzel Millionaire Bars
These sweet and salty pretzel millionaire bars have a pretzel shortbread crust, a caramel filling, and a chocolate ganache topping.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 16
For the pretzel shortbread:
- 2 ounces (55 gm) salted pretzels (see notes)
- ½ cup (65 gm) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 gm) brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, cold
For the caramel filling:
- 6 tablespoons (85 gm) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (100 gm) brown sugar
- 1–14 ounce can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
For the chocolate ganache:
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream.
- 3 ounces (85 gm) semisweet chocolate, chopped
To prepare the pretzel shortbread:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8” square metal pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Pulse the pretzels in a food processor or mini chopper until they are reduced to a coarse sandy mixture. You can leave a few small chunks, if desired. Pulse in the flour, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small clumps come together. Pat the mixture out into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven until the shortbread is soft but slightly set, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool briefly while you prepare the caramel filling.
To prepare the caramel filling:
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter and sugar together, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Add the sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup and bring the mixture to a boil. Begin stirring continuously and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has turned lightly golden and has thickened to a mayonnaise consistency. Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the salt. Pour the mixture over the pretzel shortbread and set aside to cool completely. You can expedite this process by refrigerating it.
To prepare the chocolate ganache:
- Heat the heavy whipping cream until hot but not simmering. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and pour the cream over top. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow the chocolate to melt for about 5 minutes. Stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth, microwaving in 10 second spurts as needed to help melt unmelted chocolate. Smooth the mixture over top of the caramel filling and garnish the top with extra pretzels or flecks of salt. Allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces.
- I prefer to purchase mini salted pretzel twists. Avoid using thick pretzel rods. Flavor will differ if you use unsalted or fat-free pretzels.
- If desired, feel free to stir 3/4 cup roasted chopped nuts into the caramel just before spreading on the shortbread. I have tried it with pecans and it is DELISH!