No special equipment or advanced baking skills needed to make these Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Pretzel Bars! These bars are so delicious and surprisingly EASY to make even with homemade chocolate caramel involved! You’ll love every bite of the tender shortbread and salty pretzels all covered in gooey chocolate caramel. SO Good. Top with sea salt if desired!
ONE OF A KIND DESSERT
So…you know how millionaire bars are layers of shortbread, caramel and chocolate. These Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars start with a shortbread base with crushed pretzel baked in it and are topped with chocolate caramel and more pretzels!
Slightly different than Twix bars, but they taste a lot like them! In my opion they’re better than a Twix, because they’re so fresh!
ABOUT THE LAYERS
SHORTBREAD WITH BAKED-IN PRETZELS
First up: tender, buttery shortbread baked with pretzels pressed on top! I love a shortbread base and opted for the same recipe as the base in my Roasted Strawberry Crumb Bars with the addition of pretzels! The pretzels add both saltiness and crunch!
The shortbread only takes a few minutes to whip up in a mixer then you just press it into a pan. Press about a cup of chopped, crushed, or whole pretzels into the dough before popping it into the oven.
It’s best to make this shortbread layer since you’ll want to let it cool completely before adding the chocolate caramel.
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SAUCE
Nothing not to love about homemade caramel sauce but it only gets better when you add more flavor! I was lucky to have some extra maple syrup on my hands this past winter and made some amazing maple caramel sauce with it! That sauce went on everything from carrot cake to ice cream!
Naturally chocolate caramel had to be next and it IS as dreamy as you’d expect it to be! To make it, you just proceed with a caramel recipe as you normally would and stir chocolate it at the end.
TIPS FOR MAKING HOMEMADE CARAMEL SAUCE
I know caramel sauce can sound intimidating, but it’s super quick and easy especially after you’ve made it a couple of times. If you’ve never made it before, here are a few tips:
- PAY CLOSE ATTENTION. It takes less than ten minutes to make caramel sauce, BUT you do need to WATCH for the sauce to change color so that you know when to add the remaining ingredients.
- BE ORGANIZED. Make sure you have all your ingredients and tools nearby BEFORE you start. You’ll start with the sugar, water and corn syrup, but definitely have the remaining ingredients measured out and next to the stove. I even position my ingredients in the order that I’ll need them so that I don’t have to refer to my recipe to know what to add. Just a little visual clue.
- KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR. For this chocolate caramel recipe, we want to heat the sugar, water and corn syrup until it’s medium amber. Since people’s ideas of color is different, it’s definitely helpful to have a clear idea of what color you’re going for. Bon Appetit has this cool post on The Caramel Spectrum complete with pictures. It’s especially helpful since we’re not using a thermometer to tell us what stage our caramel is in.
- USE A POT WITH TALL SIDES AND DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN YOUR CARAMEL HISSES! The hot caramel will definitely bubble up and sputter when you add the cream and butter, so it’s good to expect that. It’s also good to use a pot with tall sides so that you don’t get burned and it doesn’t bubble over.
Once the shortbread has cooled completely, pour the still-warm chocolate caramel over top. You don’t have to spread it too much since it will spread on its own. Top with pretzels and/or flaky sea salt! You can load the top with pretzels or keep it simple and not add a ton.
Keep in mind the pretzels have salt so it’s best not to go overboard with the sea salt!
CUTTING THE BARS
I find it easier to cut the bars when they’re out of the pan. To remove them from the pan, just lift the parchment paper and transfer the bars to a cutting board. Use a long, sharp knife and cut the bars as big or small as you’d like.
Sweet, gooey, salty, crunchy, chocolatey and delicious! These chocolate caramel shortbread pretzel bars are completely homemade and are definitely the perfect treat for any time of the year!Print
These gooey, salty, sweet chocolate caramel shortbread pretzel bars are completely homemade and are definitely the perfect treat for any time of the year!
FOR THE SHORTBREAD BASE
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 7 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chopped pretzels
FOR THE SALTED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 ounces chocolate, dark or bittersweet, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper with paper hanging over the sides.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed for about a minute until creamy. Add the flour, sugar, egg and vanilla and beat on high for 2 minutes.
- Press dough into prepared pan. Press the pretzels pieces gently into/on top of the dough and bake for 20-25 minutes. Rotate pan halfway after about ten minutes. Place the pan on a rack and cool completely before adding the caramel. You can place the pan in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. Just be sure to place a kitchen towel down so you don’t damage the fridge with the hot pan!
- Prepare caramel.
FOR THE SALTED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- In a saucepan with tall sides, stir to combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to cook/bubble without stirring. Gently lift and swirl the pan a few times to help the ingredients cook evenly. Cook until caramel turns light to medium amber** (about 8 to 10 minutes) then turn the heat down to low.
- Immediately but carefully add the heavy cream followed by the butter and salt. Remove from heat then add the chocolate and vanilla. The mixture will bubble and hiss with the addition of these ingredients. Stir with a whisk, spatula or wooden spoon until smooth.
- Pour mixture over the cooled shortbread. Top with sea salt and or crushed pretzels. Allow caramel to cool and set before cutting. Pull up on parchment paper to remove from pan. Set bars on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut them.
Allow extra time for shortbread to cool and for caramel to set.
**If using a thermometer, this will be around 330 F- 340 F.
Keywords: Caramel, chocolate caramel, pretzels, bars, shortbread, dark chocolate, sea salt