Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just cuz

So I had this dark beer lying around leftover from a whole grain mustard beer battered onion ring adventure (I forgot to take photos, darnit, or I'd share.).  We are not huge dark beer drinkers, and I wondered whether we'd end up tossing it....until I was mercilessly beckoned by a recipe for Beer-Pretzel Caramels.  Sold.

I casually mentioned them to my sister, who inquired "what will you do with all those caramels?".  I realized I hadn't considered that a bit, and at this point, said caramels were prepared and chilling in the fridge.  While it was a good question in light of it still being early in the New Year, Paula Deen's diabetes diagnosis, general caloric awareness, etc, I nevertheless paused and confidently replied, "consume them".   Sometimes there is no agenda necessary to make a delicous treat.  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Pretzels are a brilliant addition to anything sweet, but they are particularly divine nestled in gorgeously rich caramel.

I love a recipe with a brief ingredient list.

The prep is fun and fast.  Half of the beer reduces to a beautiful, thick syrup...

...while the second half of the beer is stirred into the other ingredients and then cooked to reach 235 degrees of amber perfection. 

These two pots do their simultaneous magic in about 12 minutes.  Once the mixtures are combined, along with crumbled pretzels, the whole concoction is poured into a buttered dish to be refrigerated until firm - but still luxuriously chewy, just as I had hoped!

While the boys were playing in the family room last night, Molly and I sneaked into the kitchen for an "our little secret" caramelfest.  I'll excuse the indulgence for mother-daughter bonding!

Beer-Pretzel Caramels
courtesy of Food Network

1 12 oz bottle brown ale
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
 11/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed thin pretzels

1.  Pour the beer into a glass; let sit until flat, about 1 hour.
2.  Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.  Bring half of the beer to a boil in small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced to 2 tsp, about 10 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, combine the remaining beer, the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream and butter in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 235 degrees (10-12 minutes).  Remove from the heat and stir in the beer syrup and pretzels.  Spread in the prepared dish and chill until firm, 45 minutes to an hour.


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