30 May 2013

Peanut Butter Pretzel Treats

Every foodie loves a well stocked pantry.  Filled with packaged of dried beans, cans of tomatoes, cartons of broth and bags of bite-sized candies, it's a perfect little hidey-hole of tasty tidbits.  But as is the case with any hole, there's a dark little corner in the end that is rarely explored.  It goes undiscovered until you pull out calcified honey bears, half eaten bags of chips and melted chocolate chip blocks.  You've all been there....pulling out an item and thinking, "When did I even buy this?"  In my pantry, the two biggest culprits are pretzel sticks and mini marshmallows.  They have a tendency to flock to the corners and lurk for months before finally revealing their stale, pulverized remnants.  And I can never throw anything out.....ever.  So to battle my way back to a clean pantry, I've created several treats of pretzel and marshmallow for the hubs eating pleasure.

Yes, I said the hubs and I meant it.  Neither pretzels nor marshmallows set my senses a-flutter.  I'll take a carrot stick and dark chocolate any day of the week for a sweet or crunchy craving.  And honestly, I don't mind one little bit.  I love feeding others almost as much even more than I love feeding myself, so this dish is really a pleasure to make.  The hubs will knock away a whole pan himself, but it's also a favorite of my co-workers at our monthly carry-in's.

The inspiration for these bars is Rice Krispy Treats...also known as the fastest way to go through a whole lot of marshmallows in a hurry.  Once you've melted them down, they transforms into an edible glue that is perfect for binding all sorts of things.  You can become patriotic with red, white and blue sixlets or go for the luck of the Irish with green food coloring.  Your imagination and the contents of your pantry are the only limitations to what you can create.

I like to stick to the pantry on these bars.  Along with the pretzels and marshmallows I have two other classic staples - peanut butter and M&M's.  This is the hubs favorite combination, and is always a crowd-pleaser.  Every bite is filled with sweet marshmallow, crunchy pretzels, a dash of salt and nuggets of chocolate.  When I feel like stepping it up a notch, I'll toss in some peanuts or dried fruit for a trail-mix type bar.  It can also be transformed into a nut-free treat by substituting butter for the peanut butter, a wonderful option for elementary school parties.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Treats

  • 1/2 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 10.5-oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 5-6 c pretzel sticks (depending on your preferred marshmallow-pretzel ratio)
  • 1 c candy-coated chocolates (M&M's, Sixlets, Smarties, etc.)
Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper.  In a large pot, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat.  Add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the pretzels.  Stir until fairly well distributed throughout the marshmallow mixture.  They will break into smaller pieces as you mix.  

When the pretzels are about 90% mixed in, add the chocolate candies.  The candies will begin to melt when added to the hot marshmallow, so you have to move quickly.  Stir in the candies and transfer into the prepared baking pan.  Using a second piece of parchment paper, quickly and firmly press the pretzel marshmallow mixture into the pan.  The parchment will prevent your hands from becoming covered in chocolate.  Cool for 30-60 minutes before cutting, or 15 minutes in the refrigerator if you just can't wait.  Cut and serve with milk.  Bars can be stored in an air-tight container for two days.  

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