Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. I'm a sentimental sort who loves celebrating my relationships, and I also like the relatively unstructured nature of Valentine's Day. Sure, there are upscale restaurants that do multi-course dinners and there's a marketing push around chocolate and jewelry, but Valentine's Day has always felt more customizable than other holidays. Over the years, I've had Valentine's celebrations the weekend before or the weekend after, or on whatever day around February 14 is most convenient. I've gone ice skating, eaten a heart-shaped Papa Murphy's pizza, ordered gourmet pop tarts, and gone out for brunch, coffee, afternoon tea, and cocktails. It's always more about spending time with my husband and partner than the specific trappings.
Maybe that's why this Valentine's pretzel bark appeals to me so much: it's festive, but not fussy or traditional. I developed the recipe for my cottage bakery, which is on hiatus due to an uptick in my freelance writing workload. Last year, my pretzel bark was a big hit with my customers, and I hope you enjoy it too.
The pretzel bark recipe works best if you use square-shaped pretzels, since they fit together nicely in the pan. For some reason I've always referred to them as "windowpane pretzels" but Synder's of Hanover calls them "snaps" and the store brands in my area are labeled as "waffles." I like to use dark brown sugar since it gives the caramel a richer flavor, but light brown sugar will work just fine. The Valentine's sprinkles are optional, or you can customize the sprinkles to fit another holiday or occasion, like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or a baby shower.
Yield: about 27 ounces of pretzel bark
- approximately 90 square-shaped pretzels (about 6 ounces)
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Valentine's sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a 10x15-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the pretzels in the foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugars. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for four minutes, until a caramel sauce forms.
Pour the caramel over the pretzels and spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return to the oven and bake for one minute. Remove and spread the melted chocolate evenly. If desired, decorate with sprinkles.
Chill the pretzel bark for approximately two hours, until firm. Cut into pieces and store an airtight container.