Football season’s in full swing, and the Super Bowl is just a week away! Even if you’re not a huge football fan, the Super Bowl still has a lot to offer: a spectacular halftime show, the world’s most expensive commercials, and a built-in excuse to eat all the junk food you can handle.
Chips, dip, and other salty foods usually rule Super Bowl menus, but what if you’re also craving something sweet? These Sweet and Salty Superbars have an addicting blend of game-day favorites like salty peanuts and pretzels, mixed with a sweet, chewy caramel on top of a buttery crust. They’re about three different snacks in one, and they are the perfect accompaniment to your game day festivities.
Sweet and Salty Superbars
yield: 24 generous bar cookies
For the base
- 1.5 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping
- 20 ounces soft caramels, unwrapped
- 2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
- 2 cups salted mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
- Coarse sea salt for topping, optional
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, until everything is well-blended and there aren’t any lumps of flour.
One of the best things about these bars is the base layer, which is a moist blondie with a flavor reminiscent of butterscotch. The flavor comes from using browned butter instead of regular butter in the batter. Browning the butter adds an extra step, but it’s so worth it! So start by melting your butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat…
And continue to heat it, stirring constantly, until it turns a light amber color and you have dark bits on the bottom of the pan, about 7-8 minutes. Looks disgusting, tastes delicious! I promise.
Combine the browned butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix them together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until the sugar clumps together like wet sand.
Add the eggs and the vanilla, and beat again for 2 minutes more. At the end you should have a velvety smooth mixture.
Now add your dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the flour streaks disappear. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and give it a few more good stirs to mix everything together.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer using a spatula.
Bake the crust at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until it’s puffed around the edges, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the crust cool completely before finishing the bars. If you want to speed up the process, you can cool it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
To make the topping, first melt the caramels. The texture of the caramels before you melt them will be the same texture after they have melted and cooled, so if your caramels are stiff or hard to chew, add a spoonful or two of cream to the bowl of caramel them to make the end result a little chewier and smoother. Microwave the caramels in 30-second intervals, stirring after every 30 seconds, until they are completely melted and smooth.
Add the peanuts and the chopped pretzels to the caramel, and stir until they’re well-mixed and coated with caramel.
Scrape the caramel onto the cooled crust and spread it into an even layer. If it feels too thick to spread easily with a spatula, wet your hands and gently press it evenly over the crust.
Melt the chocolate and drizzle it all over the top of the crust.
If you want to add a little more salt, sprinkle a generous pinch or two of flaked sea salt on top of the chocolate. Refrigerate the bars until the caramel and chocolate are set, about 45 minutes.
Once the top layers are firm, remove the bars from the pan using the foil as handles and cut them into small squares or rectangles. It’s easiest to get neat cuts when the bars are cold, but they taste so much better at room temperature–so let them sit and warm up at room temperature before you serve them!
Maybe you don’t even like football. Maybe your team isn’t in the big game, or maybe they make it and end up losing. No matter what happens, at least you’ll have these Sweet and Salty Superbars to enjoy–and they’re always a winner!
All tttext and images (c) Elizabeth LaBau