Show me a cookie or type of candy with a crunchy, salty ingredient, like pretzels for instance, and I'm sold. When sweet and salty are together in a recipe, I almost always have to try it. These shortbread bars make use of the pretzels in two ways. Rather than just topping the cookie bars with broken pieces of pretzels, ground pretzel crumbs also make up part of the dry ingredients in the dough. I found this recipe in last October's issue of Living magazine, and then I had to take it a step or two further. After making the cookie dough and pressing the broken pretzel pieces into it, I thought some dry roasted, salted peanuts would be at home there as well. Then, after baking, I felt the need to gild the bars with a drizzle of melted chocolate. The salty-sweet flavor thing is a success here, but there's a bonus with the pretzel flavor that was worked into the shortbread with the crumbs. Whether you keep these simple or start adding the extras like I did, these are very worth trying.
The bars were baked in a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, and that shape was very easy to cut straight across into pieces. First, some pretzels were pulsed in a food processor until powdery. One half cup of the pretzel powder was added to flour and baking powder for the dry ingredient mix. Then, more pretzels were coarsely chopped in the food processor. Butter and sugar were combined in a mixer, and then an egg yolk was added followed by the dry ingredients and then some of the coarsely chopped pretzels. The dough was pressed into the tart pan and topped with the remaining chopped pretzels which were pressed into the surface. At this point, I added a handful or two of dry roasted peanuts and pressed them into the dough as well. The shortbread baked for about 30 minutes and was left to cool. I melted some bittersweet chocolate and drizzled it over the cooled cookie tart.
Caramel, peanut butter, and cookies all work for me in this arena of mixing salty and sweet. And, I'm sure I'll repeat this topic sooner or later because there's a tart with a pretzel crust I've been meaning to try for years. I might have to start a sub-section in my recipe file just for sweets with pretzels.