Beer-pretzel salted caramels

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I love stumbling across new unexpected recipes.  This one was in a Food Network magazine that I pilfered from my friend who recently moved out of state.  She had a pile of magazines that were destined for the thrift store unless any of us helpers wanted to help ourselves.  New old magazines to read?  Hell, yes, I’ll help myself.  I picked up this magazine Friday night because it was fall-themed, and since it is now officially fall, I thought I’d see if there were any recipe ideas that looked interesting (there are…lots).  This particular recipe caught my eye because I needed a snack to make for a party.  A party in which there would be lots of free-flowing beer.  This seemed both appropriate and complimentary.  I had plenty of pretzels waiting for something exciting to come along, and this seemed like their ticket to food stardom.

I modified the recipe by adding some pink Himalayan salt.  I had no sea salt, and salt is salt is salt, right?  It was a good move.  I know the salted caramel phase may be old hat to some folks, but I never really jumped on that bandwagon, so I still enjoy it immensely.  Next time I make this, and there WILL be a next time, I think I will add some roasted peanuts to the mix.  I mean, peanuts, pretzels, caramel, and salt?  Oh, and did I mention beer?  Yeah, this recipe is total nirvana in your mouth.

Beer-pretzel salted caramels (adapted from The Food Network magazine October 2011)

*The magazine states this recipe should give you between “50-60 pieces.”  Ha!  HA!  I scoff at their naivety!  Just try to be that ridiculous.  You will fail.

1   12 ounce bottle of beer (a brown ale is recommended, but I used what I found in my pantry, which was a Stella Artois)

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed thin pretzels

1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or other salt, plus a little more

1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Pour the beer into a glass and let it sit until flat, about 1 hour.

Grease a 9 inch square baking dish.  Bring half of the beer (3/4 cup) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until reduced to about 2 teaspoons.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining beer, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and cream.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches 235 degrees F.  This may take 15-20 minutes.

I notice that it doesn’t take all that long to reach 200 degrees F, but then it takes a long time to break past that point.  The temperature slowly climbs to about 215 degrees, and then will accelerate fairly quickly to 235 degrees.  You will know you are getting close to 235 degrees because the mixture will change texture–it will noticeably begin to thicken–and look something like this:

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Once the temperature reaches 235 degrees, remove from heat.  Stir in the beer syrup, pretzels, and a pinch of salt.  Stir well to coat the pretzels.  Then pour the mixture into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with the 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Let stand for about 1 hour until the caramel has chilled and firmed up.  Cut into pieces.

I got about 36 pieces out of my recipe, and I ate waaaaaay to many of them once they were done.  Oh, I was supposed to make this for a party, right?  Well, I didn’t go.  I couldn’t share these…just kidding.  I wasn’t feeling up to it, but now I get to eat these babies all weekend!

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