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I really didn’t think I’d have time to blog today, but lo and behold, a small window of time!

A few months ago at Starbucks I tried the chocolate caramel pretzel bars (or whatever they happen to call them) and I thought I might have died and gone to heaven.  I vowed to try to recreate them at home during Christmas.  They are so perfect for the holidays.

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars (adapted from this recipe)

For the bottom crust:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

For the caramel/pretzel filling and topping:

  • 70-80 soft caramel candies (I used Werther’s)
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • flaked sea salt (optional)

For the fudge:

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups marshmallows (I used my homemade marshmallows)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  To make the crust, mix butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla together.  Mix in flour until everything is crumbly.

Firmly press the mixture into a 13×9 casserole dish (or a square baking pan) sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine milk and caramels and melt in a double boiler (or in the microwave at 30-second intervals.)  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and remove from the heat.

Crush the pretzels.  I put them in a ziploc and crushed them with a rolling pin.

Remove the crust from the oven.  Pour about 3/4 of the caramel onto the hot crust and reserve the rest for later.  Sprinkle the pretzels over the caramel.  Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the fudge, combine sugar, evaporated milk and butter in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Boil for 4 minutes, still stirring constantly. (Really, or the sugar will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, and then you’ll have to strain out all the burned sugar – like I may or may not have had to do…)

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows until it’s all melted together.  Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the fudge over the caramel and pretzels.  Warm the remaining caramel and drizzle over the fudge.  Take knife and gently run it through the caramel and chocolate to make sure its swirled throughout.  Then I sprinkled some awesome flakes of Swedish sea salt on top.  You can also add a pinch of regular sea salt to the drizzled caramel topping if you don’t want salt sprinkled on top.  I just think the decorative salt is really pretty.

Cut into squares and enjoy!  (And store any leftovers in the fridge.)

Aren’t they beautiful?

They are indescribably good.  Little squares of festive, holly jolly Christmas goodness.

I am the biggest fan of salty and sweet.

All things merry and bright to you and yours.  Merry Christmas!