Sweet meets salty with this chocolate bark made with beer caramel and crunchy pretzels.
As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday evening, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of football related updates. My best guess is that playoffs are over and the final two teams have been determined for the big game coming up. Who actually won? Well, don’t ask me – you didn’t come here for those answers, try a sports blog for that! What I can however help you with is the football food! After all, I’m thinking whether your team is in or out, if you love the game, you’ll be watching on the 7th and no Super Bowl party is complete without wings, dips, bites and nibbles.
There’s one more item that needs to be included on that menu though – dessert! I mean all that salty food needs to be complemented with something sweet. What’s sweeter or better than a big old hunk of chocolate bark? Am I right?
Let’s take a moment and talk about this chocolate bark.
It’s got bite and in a good, sweet and salty way.
You’ve got dark chocolate.
Then crunchy salty pretzels.
Lastly and certainly not least there’s the caramel that’s made with beer.
Now tell me this doesn’t belong at your game day spread.
This bark may sound difficult to make (beer caramel) or even like it’ll take all afternoon but truth be told, I keep things simple.
All it really includes is just a few, really good quality ingredients to make it shine.
One of those unsuspecting but all important ingredients is vanilla. Do you add vanilla to your chocolate desserts? We automatically think of chocolate and vanilla as opposites. The questions always gets asked, are you a chocolate or vanilla person. Here’s the thing though, vanilla is a complement to chocolate and brings out depths of flavor in cookies, cakes and yes even chocolate bark!
So first things first, I opened my pantry to grab a bottle of trust Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. While pure vanilla extract would work just fine here, my heart really lies in their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste. Think of it as the perfect marriage between extract and vanilla beans. The paste has a thick consistency, that allows you add even more vanilla flavor to your desserts and I just love seeing the specs of vanilla throughout. I love this so much, I buy it the 32 ounce size bottle!
Now as I mentioned this bark is pretty simple but like any time you make caramel you need to keep your eye on the pot – especially this time around!
I chose a porter for the beer, as it has lovely chocolate, caramel and depending on the one you buy vanilla notes. It’s the perfect compliment to chocolate but it’s dark. A dark beer means it’s hard to tell when your sugar is caramelizing. Since I rarely use a candy thermometer when I make caramel sauce, you need to use your nose and eyes even more. A few important tips, the beer and sugar will bubble up, please use a large pot – after 3-4 minutes of rapid bubbling, use a silicone spoon to drizzle the caramel up a little in the pot to see the color. A good test of doneness is to place some a plate, let it set for 10 seconds to harden. For this type of caramel, you want it more of a toffee consistency, so after 10 seconds if it’s soft you are good to go to the next stages of adding the butter, vanilla and cream.
This post is sponsored on behalf of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. As always all opinions are my own and thanks for supporting brands that I work with.
- ⅓ cup porter beer
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 12 ounces dark chocolate, melted
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
- 2 cups mini pretzels
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat add the porter and bring to a boil. Stir in the cane sugar and let cook until the sugar has dissolved.
- The beer and sugar mix will start to bubble up as it begins to caramelize, stir occasionally to bring the bubbles down, as the beer beings to evaporate off. After about 3-4 minutes of cooking, using a silicone spoon, drizzle up some of the caramel to check the color. If you are having a difficult time seeing how dark the caramel is, spread a small amount on a plate.
- When the caramel is a medium brown color remove from the heat and stir in the butter and then the cream. Place back on the heat source and let simmer for another minute. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and salt.
- Let sit for 10-15 minutes off heat to thicken up.
- To make the bark:
- Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals or over a double boiler and stir in the vanilla bean paste.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out ¾ of the melted chocolate in an even layer.
- Arrange the pretzels on top of the chocolate and then place in your freezer for 10-15 minutes to set.
- Remove and drizzle ¾ of the caramel over the top, so that it covers all of the pretzels. Return to the freezer for another 5-10 minutes to set.
- Remove from the freezer and drizzle the remaining chocolate and caramel on top and finish off with a few crushed pretzels. Return back to the freezer one last time, this time for about 20 minutes to set completely.
- Cut or break the bark by hand into pieces and enjoy!
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