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The Super Bowl means two things for me: commercials and half time. I like football. I like the players and their stories. The underdog winning when you least expect it. Learning the stories behind the game. Hearing about the people that aren’t always at the forefront of publicity. Having something to cheer for, along with the rest of the country, even when it seems there isn’t anything to be happy about. I love watching the pregame shows. I’m a FOX viewer, welcoming Curt, Terry, Howie, Michael, and Jimmy into my home every week during the season, along with my local pregame team. They make me laugh and teach me something about a game I’m not all that familiar with. I haven’t missed an episode of Inside the NFL in years, even as it changed hosts and networks.
Other than touchdowns and field goals, first downs and punts, I don’t know much about the game itself at all. Off sides, holding, pass interference, it’s like another language. When I’m watching Inside the NFL, I fast forward through the highlight segments. The game itself kind of bores me. But at the end of the day it’s about moments of amazing plays and winners and losers. That fascinates me. I’ll be the first to cheer for an amazing play. A zero – zero tie heading into the fourth quarter? I’ll be in the kitchen.
The Super Bowl is the only game I actually sit on the couch and watch. And truthfully, I don’t really watch it. I can’t get enough of the day long pre game coverage. Musical performances before the game excite me. Then the game comes on and I pick up my latest read or my phone to catch up on blog work and email. But everything gets set aside when the commercials begin. In a world where I fast forward through every commercial, this is the one night when I am riveted by them, occasionally rewinding to catch it again. If I need to pause for any reason, it’s during the game I catch up.
Halftime is the best. A performer’s best in less than fifteen minutes. It couldn’t get better with not only Beyonce, but also a Destiny’s Child reunion this year. I’ve seen Destiny’s Child in concert twice and know almost all their songs. This should be a halftime show that I’ll remember forever.
Of course, you need a treat while you watch the game. Sure, there needs to be savory food, but what’s a football game without dessert? These Caramel Pretzel Bars instantly struck me as Super Bowl worthy. A thin, yet firm brown sugar shortbread has amazing texture, some of the best I’ve found in shortbread, along with a mild sweetness. But the topping of caramel, with its complex flavor, accented by honey, and pretzels make these the ultimate treat. Crunchy, creamy, smooth, sweet, salty – these bars have everything. I was really impressed by the components separately as well as together. I have to say the stand out is the caramel. It’s so rich and smooth, but somehow the honey flavor is really pronounced, a welcome treat.
Whether you’re watching the game, checking out the commercials, or avoiding the hoopla altogether, these bars are a treat for any day. They’ll leave you yelling touchdown!
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup (I love Blis)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 cups small pretzel twists, broken into large pieces (I used Rold Gold)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang to pull the bars out later.
- Make the crust. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is crumbly. Press into the pan firmly. Bake for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown around the edges.
- While the crust is baking and cooling, make the filling. In a large saucepan over medium or medium-high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the cream and insert a candy thermometer in the pan. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F. Once this happens, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pretzels immediately.
- Pour the pretzel-caramel mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly over the crust. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling. Allow to cool completely in the pan. When cool, use the parchment to remove the bars from the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Bars may stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.