I love the sweet/salty combination so when I saw this recipe for Pretzel-Shortbread Bars in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living I had to try it. It just sounded too good to be true the sweet the salty the perfection – I would no longer need to be torn between those two contrasting and favorite tastes because it was going to be all in one cookie.
I ran out to The Main Course (one of my favorite kitchen stores in Toronto) to buy a 4¼” x 13 ½” fluted tart pans with a removable bottom which the recipe calls for but totally does not need because you can make it in an 8” or 9” square or circle pan. Martha never tells you these kinds of details so you end up with a lot of pans that you really don’t have room for – because few of us have multiple huge kitchens like Martha. That being said, I do see that this fluted tart pan will be a useful pan for brunch tarts and making this recipe over and over again.
And then, I made the recipe as directed. It was good, really quite nice, but (did you hear that coming…) I just felt it was missing something. I sampled it around to some friends and everyone liked it but (see that word again…) a few discerning friends agreed that it could be even better. Carol and Shari suggested chocolate chips which I though was a really good idea and was going to go down that path until I had a very serious discussion with my friend Alan who mentioned that he does not really like pretzels unless they are chocolate covered – LIGHT BULB -- and I adapted the recipe.
This really great shortbread will satisfy a multiple of flavour cravings in a single morsel so no need to bake anything else.
1½ cups mini pretzels in any shape (this is going to be ground into ½ cup of “pretzel flour”
1½ cups chocolate covered pretzels (this makes the crumble pretzels – I think even the pretzel M&M’s would be great but if I keep adapting this recipe I’ll never get it posted)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
Preheat oven to 325O
Coat a 4¼” x 13 ½” fluted tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray (TIP: remember you can use 8” or 9” square or circle pan // ANOTHER TIP: When baking I use a baking spray with flour -- specifically I use Pillsbury Baking Spray with Flour).
Pulse 1½ cups pretzels in a food processor until powdery (this is what I’m calling “pretzel flour” – you need ½ cup of this so you may need a bit more or you may end up with a little extra (save this for the next time you make this recipe. Martha says to discard any extra but I think you will want to make this again so save it. Transfer ½ cup of pretzel flour to a bowl. Stir in flour and baking powder.
Crush the 1½ cups of chocolate covered pretzels – make different sizes to give the cookies some dimension – some can be more coarsely chopped than others. I used these Rold Gold because they are delish and come in a great size bag -- can probably make two batches with this but I ate the ones I did not use because they are sweet and salty (did I mention I really like that flavour combo?).
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in egg yolk, followed by pretzel-flour mixture, until combined. Hand mix in chocolate covered pretzels.
Press dough evenly into pan.
Bake shortbread 20 to 25 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack.
Remove cooled shortbread from pan and cut into nice size pieces that work for you. I cut mine into rectangles because 1. I bought the pan and 2. Martha told me to.
So I learned a thing or two in making these cookies. I learned that it is OK to play around a great recipe base and make it your own. And I learned (well this one I already knew) that sharing with friends makes everything better – I had lots of taste testers on this cookie because getting it just right to share took a few flopped batches.
If you try this recipe or add your own special ingredient please let me know how it turned out.