Chocolate Chip Peanut Pretzel Cookie Bars

Sweet. Salty. Chewy. Crunchy. Heaven.

Sweet, Salty, Chewy, and Crunchy. These cookies have got it all!
Sweet, Salty, Chewy, and Crunchy. These cookies have got it all!

When you see a recipe in a magazine or online, do you read the reviews before attempting it?
I highly recommend it! Getting feedback from those who have already made a recipe is priceless, and gives such good insight as to whether you’ll want to follow it exactly, if you should steer clear of it at all costs…or (in the case of today’s treat), if you’ll want to switch it up to suit your tastes.

There’s something quite appealing about a dessert that combines sweet, salty, chewy, and crunchy. I saw a picture of one like that in the latest edition of Martha Stewart Living magazine. It looked like it would be perfect for a get-together we were planning. I checked the website and looked at the reviews. It only received 3 out of 5 stars, and most said they’d change the recipe. Whoa. But it looked like a good basic idea…so I went with my gut and started reworking the recipe. Before we go any further, I want to let you all know that I love Martha’s cooking. I’ve got more of her cookbooks than anyone else’s, and she is my culinary hero. She just missed the mark a little here, that’s all.

My changes: I revamped the crust, so nearly half of it was from a new ingredient. I also reduced the amount of sugar and peanuts. I took out the bittersweet chocolate & replaced it with a larger amount of semi-sweet chips.

Before I give you my rendition…I can honestly say the outcome was great… and the party guests kept coming back for more 🙂

The original recipe is here, and my revised version is below:

Salty 6

Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Cookies

1¼ sticks butter, melted, plus a little more to butter the foil on the pan
3½-4 cups mini pretzel twists (look for package that says it only has ½ the salt), divided
2 cups Nilla wafers
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1  cup lightly salted peanuts (no skins)
8 oz. semi-sweet Guittard chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line a 9×13 shallow baking pan with foil (shiny side up), leaving a 2″ overhang on long sides. Brush with butter.
Place 2½ cups of pretzels, all Nilla wafers, and sugar in food processor and pulse until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add butter and pulse again until well incorporated. Transfer to pan, spreading evenly, and carefully pack down flat with palms of hands. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over crust. Use a spatula to make sure entire area is coated. Sprinkle evenly with peanuts, then chocolate, and top with remaining 1 cup pretzels, gently pressing them into milk. If you’ve got more pretzels in the bag, feel free to put more on top! I kept adding until there was no more flat space left. Bake until chocolate melts and condensed milk begins to bubble, and edges become golden, 17-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on top of the stove or a wire rack, then refrigerate 30 minutes. Don’t try to lift out the entire sheet of cookies from the pan, because they may break. Instead, cut out a square from a corner, about 4″ x 4″. Lift out and peel off foil. Cut cookie into smaller squares/rectangles on cutting board. Repeat until all cookies are cut.

These cookies stored well overnight - just cover loosely with a paper towel
These cookies stored well overnight – just cover loosely with a paper towel
Storing it: I made 2 pans’ worth and stacked all cut cookies onto a large plate, covered very losely (on the top and sides) with a paper towel overnight. The next day the pretzels were still crunchy, and the flavor had really set in. PS: I think this revised recipe is exactly perfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Maybe next time Martha needs to ask my opinion… heh heh.
By the way… I think I found the perfect candidate to enjoy my cookies…(I love Jeremy’s antics in this comic strip! Anyone who has had a teenaged son can totally relate!)
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(Everything after this yellow logo is nothing but advertising)

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