Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

Hello, there! Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful holiday season. I might think I look and feel young, but the fact that each December seems to arrive quicker than the last points to my impending old geezerhood. With age comes the wisdom to slow down and enjoy the important things whenever possible. Also with age comes the inclination to spew every cat poster cliche whenever possible, so forgive me. I can’t help it. Now excuse me while I smell the roses.

This recipe has been making its way through my Facebook feed in various incarnations. Admittedly, the culinary snob in me has a lot of reservations about any popular Facebook recipe. Favorite Facebook recipe ingredients usually include Cool Whip, Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough and some variety of canned creamed soup. Notthattheresanythingwrongwiththat — usually just not my cup of fancy overpriced fair trade organic tea. However, when I notice more than a couple friends sharing something, I start to take notice. And I’m glad that I did! This one is a winner, for sure. Sometimes things don’t have to be impossibly challenging in order to be very good. Yet another lesson I am learning in my advanced years.

I have tweaked this, as I’m prone to do, and I’m quite pleased with the results. I am sure you can find a million other versions online, too. But I can personally vouch for this one, so why don’t you try it?

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

Ingredients
1/2 bag thin pretzels. I prefer the square ones pictured below, but use whatever’s on hand/on sale!
2 sticks butter (I think salted butter works best, but suit yourself)
1 cup brown sugar
1 bag (about 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
THAT’S ALL, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Don’t have parchment paper? Well, buy some! I’ll wait. Don’t skip this part. Now arrange the pretzels on the sheet as close together as possible. See below.

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan and stir until melted, thickened and caramel color and consistency. It should be smooth, easy to pour, and thick but not TOO thick.

Carefully pour caramel over the pretzels as evenly as possible. Use a rubber spatula to help even out, but don’t despair if not perfect. Now pop it in the oven for five minutes. Wash your spatula. You will need it soon!

Remove from oven, sprinkle all the chocolate chips evenly over the caramel. Gently spread with rubber spatula until chips are melted. Keep on counter for about ten minutes, then freeze for about an hour. Cut into pieces, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remember, it’s fun to share! “Just two little pieces” quickly turns into “just ten pieces,” and before you know it, you’ve eaten the teacher’s gift. You’ve been warned!

Pretzel

Bark

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Nutella Pie

nightsinRodanthe

Greetings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we are enjoying a lovely week at the beach. This is the first time any of us have been to North Carolina, and we are very impressed with the beautiful beaches and warm, friendly southern hospitality. We’re vacationing with long-time friends who also have three kids, and our meals and cocktail hours together have so far been delightful.

Last night we enjoyed some fresh caught red snapper from the fish market next door. It was originally supposed to be taco and margarita night, but the state of NC had other plans for us. Apparently no hard liquor can be purchased on a Sunday in this state, much to the dismay of my heathen heart, so margarita night is rescheduled for Monday.

My work friend gave me this quick and easy recipe that immediately appealed to my trashy side. It seemed like the perfect dessert to prepare for a beach vacation or any other need-a-quick-crowd-pleaser-dessert type occasion. I know I probably write like I think I’m too good for Cool Whip, but I’m really not. Well, okay, maybe just a little. Anyway, this dessert could not have been any easier or more of a hit. Minimal effort and maximum praise makes it a big winner in my book.

I followed the directions exactly, and it turned out very well. Since I’m not at home and have limited supplies, I didn’t have the time or inclination to tweak it. However, in a perfect world, I would probably make my own graham cracker crust and top it with real whipped cream.

The original recipe appeared on allrecipes.com by cook Christina right here.

Nutella Pie

Ingredients:
1 jar Nutella, 13 ounces
Philadelphia cream cheese, 8 ounces softened
1 nine inch prepared graham cracker pie crust
Cool Whip, 8 ounces, thawed

Directions:
Spread 1/4 cup of the Nutella on the bottom of the pie crust. Whisk together softened cream cheese and remainder of Nutella. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into the pie crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

coolwhip

Just four ingredients, CAN YOU STAND IT?

nutellapie

It’s a Marshmallow (Fudge) World in the Winter

It seems every holiday season there is a different song I favor, and this year it’s Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra’s cover of the 1949 classic “Marshmallow World.” There are many great versions of this song, but the one below is by far my favorite.

After hearing Marshmallow World approximately one hundred times this past week, I started to have strong cravings for a marshmallowy treat. I found so many recipes I want to try, but today is Wednesday. Thursday is my weekly food shopping day, so the pickings are always slim by Wednesday. Sure, I could just run to the store three miles away and buy what I need for whatever recipe strikes my fancy, but where’s the sport in that? I’d rather make due with what’s on hand. More often than not, I am determined to wait until Thursday to do my shopping — it’s an odd mixture of laziness, discipline and stubbornness.

Lucky for me, the folks at Real Simple have the perfect three ingredient recipe for marshmallow fudge: semi-sweet chocolate chips, one can of sweetened condensed milk, and mini-marshmallows. I added a teaspoon of vanilla because I wanted to put my own stamp on it, but you don’t need to. These sit for about twelve hours in the refrigerator to set, but I had to sneak a piece or two right away for a picture and quality endorsement. I know my expectations were low, but I am really impressed with how delicious these are. In fact, I may need to hide them from plain sight for my own good — and pick another holiday song for 2012.

Marshmallow Fudge from Real Simple:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups miniature marshmallows

Heat the milk and pour over the chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in the marshmallows. Pour into a parchment-lined 8-inch square baking pan and refrigerate until firm, at least 12 hours. Cut into 36 squares.

marshmallowworld