I am a bit of a nut for the combination of sweet and salty at the moment. I realise this marks me out as someone slavishly following food trends, running with the crowd, baaing with the sheep, yada yada yada, such is the popularity of this flavour combination right now, but I don’t care. It all started with that demon, salted caramel, which has its claws in me good and proper. As a cookbook addict and regular Delicious reader, I’d like to think I was way ahead of the curve on this trend, remembering the days I’d drop salted caramel into the conversation and people would not get why this would ever be a desirable combination. Now it is everywhere, I can barely remember the last time I saw the word ‘caramel’ without ‘salted’ preceding it. Cadburys Caramel bars really need to start moving with the times. The wonderful thing about adding salt to sweet foods is that it magically stops the sickliest foods becoming too much and yet the contrast of sea salt flakes and sugary sweetness only makes you more aware of the sweetness. This must be what makes it so unbelievably addictive. I know a few lovely people who still think it’s nuts to add salt to caramel (or indeed any sweet thing) and I’m undecided yet as to whether they are monumental idiots, or actually geniuses for avoiding the inevitable addiction that swiftly follows that first taste. The jury is out on that one.
I love now to add a teaspoon or two of sea salt flakes (and I urge you to only use sea salt in sweet foods, don’t even consider table salt) to any sweet treat that I may be cooking. It’s particularly good in a really rich, dense brownie or sprinkled over the caramel before pouring over the melted chocolate to millionaires shortbread. I also love finding new recipes that play on the sweet ‘n’ salty relationship. I was drawn to today’s recipe of Choc Chip Cookie Pretzel Bars after realising how similar they were to a hard to find special edition pack of M&Ms that I found in America. These chocolate M&Ms were combined with salted peanuts, tiny choc chip cookies and miniature pretzels and obviously were absolute heaven. My fear is that during this pregnancy I’ll develop an insatiable craving for them that I cannot overcome due to the rather large, immovable, and uncross-able at 6 months pregnant Atlantic Ocean. Let’s hope this baby craves something inherently British for my sanity and everyone around me’s sake, although after a bit of Googling I’ve discovered you can buy a pack in the UK for the completely insane price of £7.50. But still, what price can you put on ones sanity?
I found this recipe on Pinterest (where else?) which seems to specialise in unique bakes that you’d struggle to find in any cookbook. God bless the internet! There’s not much work required other than a bit of stirring and mixing so perfect if you are rushed for time. Expectations were high, and unfortunately I was left a little disappointed. Not that they were bad, because they weren’t, but because the flavours didn’t quite live up to the M&Ms pack. The pretzels needed to be a little bit saltier and I think it could have done with a bit more chocolate to really amp up the flavours and turn it from a decent treat into a fantastic one. Still, with a little bit of work and some tweaking I reckon this could eventually be amazing, perhaps with the addition of some peanuts and actual chocolate M&Ms rather than plain chocolate chips. The cookie bar itself is soft and gooey with a slight crunch on the outside, as well as the crunch from the pretzels. You can find the recipe here should you want to give it a go, but I advise you do a little bit of tweaking if you can to maximise the flavours: http://www.justataste.com/2013/12/pretzel-chocolate-chip-cookie-bars-recipe/