By Kim Dannies
October 17th, 2013
Magic bars, monster bars—whatever you call them, they are the perfect seasonal sweet. Rich, outrageous, and delicious, they are the foie gras of cookie bars: the bottom crust is made with crushed pretzels and almonds, followed by a layer of crispy bacon, dark chocolate, peanut butter chips, crushed potato chips and topped with a deluge of salted caramel sauce. Football feasts, potlucks and Halloween treats never had it so good.
My sweet-toothed Quinn turned me on to magic bars, (aka “Hello Dolly bars” and “dude bars”) and they are not for sissies. A down and dirty attitude is required so you’d better bring your A game (and maybe a toothbrush) when you step up to this one. By dumping a bunch of outrageous ingredients into a pan and baking it you’ll create something so gooey and sweet, crunchy and addictive, your eyes will roll back in your head. Not a dainty affair, but easy enough for anyone who is game on to dig in.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with foil and spray the foil with Pam.
In a food processor, blend 2 cups of pretzels and 2 cups of almonds into crumbs (alternately, smash pretzels and nuts finely in a plastic bag with a rolling pin). Fry 12 strips of bacon until cooked crispy; blot on a paper towel, then cut into small pieces. Melt 4 ounces of butter and combine with the crumbs along with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar tossing until mixture looks like wet sand.
Press mixture onto the bottom of the foil-lined pan in an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top of the pretzels in an even layer; add 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 1 cup peanut butter chips, and 1 cup crushed potato chips. Pour 14 ounces of purchased salted caramel sauce over the entire pan. Bake the bars at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Cool in the freezer for 30 minutes to set up for bar cutting. To serve, lift the bars from the pan using the foil as handles, and cut into small squares. Sprinkle with a pinch of crushed potato chips just before serving.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at kimdannies.com. Kim@kimdannies.com.