desserts, snacks

pretzel shortbread snack bars.

There is no way that something this simple to execute should be this good. There is no way a recipe involving ingredients found in virtually any pantry at any time of the year should taste like this. There is simply no way Martha Stewart needed to lure me into buying her October 2011 magazine by promising me beautiful short rib pot pies and halloween ideas and then give me, just offhandedly, the recipe for this

Why isn’t THIS on the cover? Who made that decision? This, my friends, is what Ms. Stewart likes to call “snack bar.” sounds innocent, right? like “granola” or “trail mix.” just, you know, something to eat when you feel like it. no big deal. Just a snack bar.

This wasn’t even going in the blog. i thought i’d just make it for no reason. but this thing could be considered a gateway drug to bad snacky eating. it’s got everything: it’s salty. it’s sweet. it’s crunchy. it’s crumbly like a cookie. it’s amazing. and you can’t put it down.

I made two of these inside of 3 days. the first was as the original recipe indicated, and the second was with just one teensy addition (vanilla), mostly because i felt like it was missing just the slightest bit of something. the vanilla, although it’s only a 1/2 teaspoon, totally does it. it brings out both the sweet and the salty just perfectly. But be forewarned: if you’re making this for say, some sort of get together or really anything involving a crowd, you really need to make plenty. this only makes a smallish amount and this is one of those things that will go like hotcakes.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE! thanks to some very helpful nice comments on this post, i thought i’d try making yet another batch of these (this makes, to date, five batches) so i could try them with both white and dark chocolate. Here’s the result:

I liked them both, for different reasons. The dark chocolate added that nice mellowness that dark chocolate tends to add, especially when there’s salt involved. The white chocolate definitely gives it more sweetness, very similar to a white chocolate covered pretzel. Soooo…do either one. Do both. Just make sure to use a good-quality chocolate (Ghiradelli is a good, easy to find one). Please; no chocolate chips in the microwave.

be careful out there. Taken from Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2011.

Pretzel Shortbread Crack Snack Bars

  • vegetable oil or cooking spray (or butter, if you’re so inclined)
  • 3 1/4 cups salted miniature twist pretzels
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (and this is key: it turns out so much better if it’s truly room temp and not melty)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 oz good-quality dark or white chocolate (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 4 1/4 by 13 1/2 inch fluted tart pan witha removable bottom with cooking spray or grease with butter. Line bottom with parchment. (This tart pan sounds so much more fancy than it is: very easy to find at places like Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table.)

Pulse 1 3/4 cups pretzels in a food processor until powdery. Transfer 1/2 cup to a bowl; discard any remaining pretzel powder. Stir in flour and baking powder. Transfer remaining 1 1/2 cups pretzels to food processor, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in egg yolk and vanilla, then pretzel flour mixture, until combined. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped pretzels.

Press dough evenly into pan. Top dough wiht 1/4 cup chopped pretzels, pressing slightly and evenly; discard any remaining pretzels. I also added a few completely intact pretzels because it looked a little nice to have a few scattered about.

Bake shortbread until pale brown and firm in the center, about 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes or so, because overbaking (and i did this on the first one) is easy to do. You want to remove it just as it is done.

If you are topping these with chocolate, break up chocolate into pieces and place in a double boiler. Heat water in a saucepan to barely simmering and place the double boiler over (not touching) the water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Drizzle by dipping a spoon in the chocolate and running it back and forth over the bar.

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  • Reply Heather C October 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I love it! And they would definitely be crack bars for me. I will definitely wait to make them until I have the opportunity to share them. 🙂

  • Reply Christa October 9, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Oh wow these look perfect for my daughters lunch boxes. I wonder what they would be like drizled with white chocolate?

  • Reply Cristina October 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Periodic Table is a brilliant food blog name! It suggests experimentation is going on…have you thought of trying these with chocolate in there somewhere or drizzled on? Just asking and hoping you’re willing to go there and report your outcome.

    • Reply shannon October 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Christa + Cristina,

      You know, since you both mentioned the chocolate drizzle idea, I have to tell you: I have tried these once drizzled with some milk chocolate i had left from another recipe, but i wasn’t super happy with the results. Here’s why: I felt like the chocolate covered up the pretzels on tip a bit too much (maybe I over-drizzled?) and I didn’t feel the milk chocolate did the salty-sweet combo I had going any favors. But! Christa, I think white chocolate is a great idea. Even better (since it is pumpkin season), try grabbing some orange food color gel and dye your white chocolate; the brown/orange combo on top of the creamy color shortbread may look beautiful. And fun for kids’ lunchboxes 🙂
      Cristina, I also plan on making a batch of these with dark chocolate in the near future. I’ll post the results, so check back!

    • Reply shannon October 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      ps: Cristina, i forgot to thank you for your compliment regarding my little blog’s name. There will be some experimentation going on here…I almost never make my way through a recipe without monkeying with something.

  • Reply Calicobirdie October 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Just stumbled onto this and YUM. Looks like I have a weekend dessert plan. Reminds me of these, which are so addictive too. What is it with the sweet/salty combo?

    • Reply shannon October 13, 2011 at 2:45 am

      i know! sweet/salty gets me every time. I’ve seen these chocolate chip pretzel cookie bars before, and i’m a little scared to make them because they look far too good to just leave around the house unattended. mmmm…

  • Reply Susan October 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    *graon* Just made a batch and can’t. stop. eating. these! Must. stop. now. Actually, I’m already musing on how to make these more healthy since they’re so delish. My second batch will probably include home-ground soft white wheat flour, a different sugar (Turbanado or other sugar with maybe honey), and well, I can’t come up with anything better than butter, so that will stay. Vanilla was a good addition. I’m considering even melting a light layer of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top and spreading them really thin. The possibilities!

    • Reply shannon October 13, 2011 at 2:41 am

      LOVE the idea of making them healthier…i’d love to hear how it turns out! The chocolate is a nice addition…i just added photos of my chocolate drizzle results to the post, and both the semi-sweet and white chocolate versions were equally tasty. Big thanks, readers! 🙂

  • Reply Missy December 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    We’ve added dark chocolate chips to the batter! Dee-licious!!!

  • Reply Angelina Fitcheard January 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Bookmarked! Thanks for an amazing post, will read your others posts.

  • Reply jam macaroons + a thank you note. – A Periodic Table June 21, 2017 at 7:56 am

    […] readers after I had a few recipes up. Then, disaster struck: Amy at Angry Chicken linked to my pretzel shortbread bars and whoops: all the sudden I had readers. Like, not just my mother; actual readers. When I saw […]

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