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Thursday, March 8, 2012

bark like a bear

i'm kinda on a roll with this whole "fly by the seat of my pants" thing in the kitchen lately.  instead of being a recipe nazi like i usually am, i'm finding it rather fun to wing it and toss stuff together at random to see how it turns out.  by no means am i ready to write a cookbook or anything, but i'm learning to relax about precise measurements these days.

last time she was here, MIL discovered chocolate and caramel-covered marshmallows on a stick at "pooh's corner" (a cute little super-duper-out-of-the-way treat shop at disneyland).  while she was standing in line, i was busy drooling over this (and yup, i sure did start munching on it before remembering to take a picture):

really, it's just a pretzel rod that's been dipped in caramel, then in chocolate, and rolled in mini m&ms.  not exactly rocket science, but it's a super delicious, totally tasty treat that combines sweet and salty very nicely.  while i wasn't about to buy a bag of pretzel rods, i remembered that i had something else i could use - and so i decided to make up a batch of m&m pretzel bark.

i'm thinking it's probably a little ridiculous that this is stuff i regularly have in the cupboards, right?

well, sure.  if ridiculous = awesome.

i spread out a layer of pretzel sticks in the bottom of my wax paper-lined pan.  i was a little anal about keeping them straight.

i poured the caramel bits into my mini saucepan and added a little water.  they kinda look like garbanzo beans...only these are SO WAY BETTER.

it only took a few minutes over medium-low heat for them to melt into the lovely gooey-ness that i poured on top of those pretzels.

next, i attempted to melt a cup or so of chocolate chips with a bit of heavy cream.  except that i screwed it up in a big way and the chocolate seized up and turned into a blob of awful.  i couldn't even stop to take a picture of it as i flipped it right out into the trash can.  bah!  i hate wasting chocolate.

never fear - there are always other chocolate options in the house.  i figured a mixture of these would work nicely.

this time, i decided to bust out my ghetto-fabulous faux double boiler - which is what i should've done in the first place.  i broke up the chocolate into pieces and then set the bowl over an inch or so of simmering water.

see?  much better.

it was happy to join the party.

the fun part was sprinkling the mini m&ms on top.

i popped it into the fridge overnight, and the next day i was pleased to see that everything had set perfectly.  well, the caramel was still a teeny-tiny bit gooey.  next time, i need to use less water.

chop, chop, chop with my knife.

pretty, right?  you should make some.  this is what you do:

m&m pretzel bark

pretzel sticks
a bag of caramel bits (if you can't find the ones i used, any caramel candies will do - about 20 should work)
1 cup chocolate chips, or a hershey's milk chocolate bar + a bar of dark chocolate
mini m&ms

line an 8" x 8" pan with wax or parchment paper.  the latter is better, by the way.  spread out a layer of  pretzel sticks, enough to cover the surface.  in a small saucepan, pour about half of the bag of caramel bits and add about a teaspoon of water and melt over low heat, stirring constantly.  spread the caramel on top of the pretzels.

place the chocolate chips (or break up the bars into small pieces) into the top of a double boiler (or, if you're like me, in a glass bowl that fits perfectly into a saucepan), and set it over an inch or so of simmering water.  melt the chocolate, stirring every 10 seconds or so.  this goes on top of the caramel layer.  sprinkle with as many mini m&ms as you want.  as for me, i used about half of that bag.  put the whole shebang into the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if you do this late-ish at night like i did.

break it up with your hands or slice it neatly with a sharp knife.  eat.  then eat some more.  share some if you want.  or hide it in the back of the fridge where only you can see it.  whatever.  i'm not gonna judge.


  1. These look so amazing!!! Going to the store tomorrow to pick up the ingredients!

  2. Drool!!!! I'm so gonna make some of these!

  3. Oh my....I might just try to make it this...just need to dig out my ghetto fabulous faux double boiler- I love that word you put together


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