Bon Appétit (December 2012)
'Tis the season for sweets. Ever since Thanksgiving, it seems like we've never been more than arm's reach from a tempting treat or confection -- at parties, at the office, at the bank. There was a plate of cookies at the gym one day last week, for Pete's sake.
Nevertheless, we wanted to try out these Crunch Bars. (Oh, the lengths we go to for you Bittens....)
We loved the look of the magazine's bars topped with popcorn, so we stuck with that. We also added crushed pretzels for salty crunch.
Perhaps that was our mistake...
Because the truth is, we weren't huge fans of these Crunch Bars. Since the cookie base and chocolate layer are so basic, these crunch bars are really all about the toppings. And the popcorn -- which did look cool -- just wasn't that terrific. Unseasoned (again, our error), it just sort of ... sat there on the top of the bars. And the pretzels we used weren't that great either. They were already very thin, but we should have crushed them smaller than we did. As it was, the textures just didn't work very well together, either with each other or with the bar base itself.
Something with more of a flavor punch would have been better. We do like the idea of coconut, or crushed peanuts would be tasty. Or honestly, just topped with a bit more sea salt. And, yeah, we have to say we love the notion of crushed candy canes (which also would look beautiful).
So, a bit of a bust for us. But this is a case where we're definitely blaming our choices, and not the recipe itself.
This would be a knockout recipe to make with kids. Letting them choose the toppings at the store, and then letting them go to town with a mallet or rolling pin to crush them, would be super fun.
Just choose your toppings wisely.
Makes about 26
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY
We opted to top our crunch bars with pretzels. We chose Peppridge Farms Baked Naturals "Simply Pretzel Thins" because they were, well, thin.
Cookie Base1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for dish
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1 1/2 cups assorted toppings, such as cocoa nibs, crushed candy, toasted chopped almonds and pistachios, lightly toasted coconut, and popcorn
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)