How To Make Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars From Scratch
This recipe for Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars is packed with homemade caramel goodness and a delicious cookie crust. If you’re looking for a treat to wow your family and friends with, this is it! At first glance it looks like there are a lot of different elements that go into it, and believe me, there are. But it requires minimal baking time and is a fun project for a Sunday afternoon when you know you have some downtime.
The secret to this recipe is making as much as you can from scratch. Could you use store bought caramel sauce? Absolutely. But I honestly think the homemade salted caramel sauce is part of what makes these bars amazing.
For The Shortbread Cookie Layer
This will be your base layer. It’s important to not overcook the dough for this otherwise you will be left with a crumbly base. The shortbread cookie base is super quick to pull together and I use a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, I advise using at least a handheld mixer to get the proper consistency.
How To Make Salted Caramel Sauce From Scratch
Don’t be intimidated by this process. It’s super quick and easy and I promise it yields an amazing caramel sauce. All you need is sugar, butter, heavy cream and some sea salt. For this particular recipe you will use a full batch of the sauce, but if you wanted to make the sauce on it’s own for later you can do that too! It goes great on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, and of course apples!
For The Chocolate
There are lots of chocolate brands out there, but when it comes to the brand I use I always choose Ghirardelli. No, this isn’t a sponsored post. I genuinely love their chocolate and I feel it’s worth a few dollars more when using them in a recipe like this. I mix it with sweetened condensed milk to make an amazing chocolate sauce for the top of these bars. It’s so smooth and creamy you will have a hard time not eating too many “samples” of it.
Bring It All Together
For your layers you are going to have shortbread cookie on the bottom, caramel sauce, chocolate, and then you top it all off with mini pretzels and more sea salt. It might seem like a lot but it’s really not that difficult to put together. All I can say is you are going to love these bars, and so will your family and friends. It’s almost like a candy bar when it’s all said and done, and who doesn’t love those? They go great with coffee too! Which is a win for me because I love to have something sweet with my coffee.
Now let’s get to baking!
Kitchen Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Stand Mixer (Handheld is also fine)
- 8 inch Square Glass Baking Dish
- Medium Sized Saucepan
Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bars Recipe
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Servings: About 20 Bars
1st Layer – Shortbread Cookie:
½ Cup plus 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter (slightly soft)
1 Cup plus 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour (I like King Arthur)
¼ Cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg (Yolk Only)
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
2nd Layer – Caramel Sauce:
1 Cup Sugar
6 Tbsp. Salted Butter (slightly soft)
½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Sea Salt (I like Maldon’s)
3rd Layer – Chocolate:
1 10 oz Bag Milk Chocolate Chips (Love Ghirardelli)
1 14oz Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
4th Layer – Toppings:
1 Cup Mini Pretzels
Sea Salt To Sprinkle On Top
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit into the square baking dish. This allows for easy clean up!
- Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
- Using your stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Then add the rest of the cookie ingredients. Beat for an additional 2 minutes until combined.
- Press the cookie dough into your baking dish making sure to cover the whole base.
- Place into the oven for 20 minutes. When removing the dough might not look baked fully. This is a trick. It will be perfect. Don’t overcook or your base will be too crumbly. Set aside to cool.
- Next, make the caramel sauce in a medium saucepan. You will want to heat the sugar by itself until melted. Use medium heat. It will turn into a thick brown sauce. Use a spatula to stir constantly. This part is important and you don’t want to burn the sugar. Make sure there are no lumps otherwise your caramel will have hard chunks of sugar in it.
- Once it’s melted down add your butter in chunks. I advise having the butter sit out at room temperature for a few minutes first so it’s not completely cold. Keep stirring constantly! It’s important to constantly stir until it’s melted.
- Now add the heavy cream. Careful! It will start to boil and rise in the pan. This is why it’s important to not use a small pan. We don’t want any overflows to happen. Continue to stir the sauce until combined into a smooth consistency.
- Remove it from the heat once combined and sprinkle the sea salt and give it a good stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for at least 20 minutes.
- Once the sauce is cool but not too stiff to pour, drizzle it on top of your cookie layer. At this point I place the baking dish in the fridge for about 30 minutes to speed up the cooling process. This is an important step because you want the caramel to be hardened before you pour the chocolate on top.
- While that’s in the fridge make your chocolate layer. Dump the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk into a medium saucepan. Melt over medium heat. Stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once completely combined and smooth remove from heat and let cool.
- Check on your cookie and caramel layer. If the caramel sauce is solid you can pour the chocolate sauce on top. Place the pretzels on top and gently press into the chocolate to keep them from falling off. Sprinkle with sea salt and place back in the fridge to cool.
- At this point they are done! But I advise keeping them in the fridge until they now longer feel soft. It’s important that they are chilled so they are easy to cut into chunks. I find they are easiest to cut when you remove them from the baking dish. This is a breeze thanks to the parchment paper! You can just lift them up and out onto a cutting board.
Storage: I recommend keeping them in the fridge in a sealed container or Ziplock bag. If you leave them out on the counter too long they will start to melt.
Making this recipe? Please tag me on Instagram @natashasfoodadventures so I can see your creations!
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Recipe Notes: Cookie Layer Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction