I took my favourite crunchy toffee recipe – that melts in your mouth and added salted pretzels to it to make this toffee, salted pretzel & chocolate bark. I mean, who doesn’t love that? The chocolate on top is 70% which I would recommend. This breaks the sweetness and adds a small bitter note.
I use a digital thermometer for all sweet-making; that way there is little room for error. Sugar can change in a matter of seconds when heated through various stages, so it’s advisable to remain totally focused and keep monitoring the temperature exactly.
If you don’t have one, then cook your caramel until it starts turning golden brown. By this, I mean a darker colour. It stays a lightish golden colour for ages, so you will need to stir for around 10 minutes before the alchemy happens and the molten, buttery sugar suddenly moves to the hard crack stage.
The old-school way of checking is to drop a piece of toffee in a glass of water and then taste it to determine at what stage it is at. Prepare well and have everything you need on hand before you begin. Also, don’t ever, I mean ever be tempted to lick the spoon while making caramel, no matter how delicious it looks.
I used a KitchenAid 9 x 13 x 2 inch / 23 x 33 x 5cm professional-grade aluminized steel baking pan which is just so far superior to anything I have ever used in my life.
All I can say is save up and get yourself a set of these baking pans if you are serious about baking. They will last forever (or at least forever in your lifetime). They are so sturdy there is zero buckling and bending when you add hot things to them or bake on them. Line this with baking paper to make pulling this delicious confectionary out easy when it’s set.
In other news, and unrelated to this toffee, pretzel bark, I was thrilled to hear last week that my blog – this here Drizzle & Dip, won Top Food & Drink blog in Africa in the African Blogger Awards 2016. The awards are not judged by a public voting system but based on actual data mined from the back-end of sites and social media platforms to determine their:
I was also the runner-up in the photography category which was surprising but delightful * inserts smiley emoji here*
About my cookbook Sweet
This is what it’s about (more or less), and so they say:
‘Sweet – a word that in the culinary realm conjures up notions of decadence, irresistible deliciousness, indulgence and yes, basically palate bliss. Those treats we crave when we’re happy, sad or in need of a pick-me-up, and which make the world feel like a wonderful place. These are what Sam Linsell presents in Sweet – and so much more! The dizzy array of sweet temptations will make your head spin and take you back to that state of excited contemplation that you last experienced as a child before a birthday party.
Cakes, tarts, butters, confectionery sweets, muffins, biscuits, bars, pastries, sauces, puddings, beverages, ice creams, preserves, sorbets, mousses, scones – they’re all there. But unlike the sweet treats of childhood, Sam offers a very adult twist to many a traditional offering, such as Vanilla and Baileys’ French toast bake, and Chocolate waffles with bourbon butterscotch sauce. And if you really need to salve your conscience, all the recipes in one of the chapters include fruit.
As if the recipe titles aren’t sufficient to set the tastebuds alight, special mention should be made of the photography. Sam is a food stylist par excellence and the photographs (she took them herself) are sure to kick that last vestige of resistance into the wild yonder. The only sensible thing to do is to yield to temptation and move into the kitchen.’
A few of my other favourite sweet recipes:
This recipe could not be easier and simply requires a little time for the toffee and chocolate to set at different times
Recipe – adapted from my own book Sweet – published by Penguin Random House 2015
toffee, salted pretzel & chocolate barkPrint Recipe
- 230 gm butter / 1 cup
- 200 gm granulated white sugar / 1 cup
- 5 ml vanilla extract / 1 teaspoon
- 2 3/4 cup salted pretzels
- 400 gm - 420gm dark chocolate / 2 3/4 - 3 cups 70% cocoa
- In a medium-sized, heavy-based pot, bring the butter, sugar and vanilla extract to a boil. Keep stirring until the caramel starts to turn golden-brown (7–10 minutes) and reaches 155 °C on a sugar thermometer, then pour it into the prepared dish or baking tray and spread it out evenly.
- Quickly arrange the pretzels evenly across the surface of the toffee (making sure you don't touch the hot caramel and press down lightly.
- Leave it to cool for a few hours or overnight.
- Melt the chocolate on the stove in a double-boiler or in a microwave, and spread it evenly over the caramel. Allow to cool and harden
- When the toffee and chocolate have cooled completely, break them up into shards or cut them into about 24 pieces. A few bits will break off.
- The amount of chocolate required will depend on the size of your tray. The larger the surface area the more you will need. If you make a thicker bark in a smaller tray you can use less. I do however recommend making it on the size tray as I used.