Introduction: Pi Bars - (P)retzel (i)nsanity Bars (aka Pretzel Caramel Pie Bars)
Makes 32 bars (large ones, or 64 smaller ones)
Pi Bars, or Pretzel Insanity Bars - are the perfect combination of salty and sweet. The caramel, with its honey maple notes highlight the saltiness of the pretzel. They are highly addictive, so watch out - you may find yourself eating way too many, hence the insanity.
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Step 1: Ingredients - Sweet Pastry Crust
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
â cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 2: Method - Sweet Pastry Crust
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper or grease bottom and sides very well. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment (or a bowl that you use your hand mixer with), beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until the mixture is crumbly, 10 to 15 seconds.
Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool slightly as you prepare topping.
Step 3: Ingredients - Pretzel Caramel Topping
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
6 ½ cups small pretzel twists, lightly crushed
Step 4: Method - Pretzel Caramel Topping
In a large saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, syrup, and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted in the caramel registers 240°F (soft ball stage), about 11 minutes longer. Add the pretzels, quickly incorporating it into the caramel. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the topping is bubbling. Let cool completely.
Step 5: Serving
Remove onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve.
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