Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Ice Cream Bars

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If the combination of cool, creamy vanilla ice cream, thick, gooey chocolate ganache, salty pretzels, and crunchy peanuts sounds like something you can get, this easy ice cream bar dessert is for you.

Inspired by two Dairy Queen treats, Dilly Bar (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate) and Buster Bar (vanilla ice cream, plus peanuts and fudge swirls dipped in chocolate), the dessert of the Cookbook author Jessie Sheehan’s snack bar is all that, and then some. The no-bake pretzel crust is topped with soft store-bought ice cream (Sheehan likes vanilla here, but you like it), followed by a layer of roughly chopped, roasted, and salted peanuts, and topped with a chocolate ganache silky.

To finish, Sheehan sprinkles more chopped peanuts and crushed pretzels over the chocolate, giving the bars more salt and crunch. After a few hours in the freezer, the dessert is cut into bars to satisfy all salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy or chocolate cravings.

Active time: 45 minutes ; Total time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Get ahead: The crust can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 days.

Storage Notes: Bars can be frozen in a zip lock bag for up to 2 weeks.


Servings:

16

Size tested: 16 servings; 2 by 3 inch bars

Ingredients
  • For the crust and filling
  • 1 cup (8 ounces / 226 grams) unsalted butter, melted, plus more at room temperature for greasing the pan

  • 2 1/2 cups (8 ounces/226 grams) finely ground pretzels (about 4 1/2 cups whole pretzels, ground in a food processor or crushed in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin; see NOTE

  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 1/2 quarts (27 1/2 ounces/783 grams) store-bought vanilla ice cream

  • For the ganache filling
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 2 cups (about 9 ounces/254 grams) roasted and salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

  • About 1 tablespoon each finely chopped peanuts and crushed pretzels, for sprinkling


directions

Make the crust: Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan with softened butter. In a large bowl, combine the ground pretzels, melted butter, sugar and salt and mix with a flexible spatula (or your hands) until the butter and sugar are completely incorporated and the mixture has the consistency wet sand. Scrape into the prepared pan and, using your hands or the back of a dry measuring cup, press into the bottom of the pan, creating a solid, flat layer. Freeze for about 30 minutes.

Make the ganache: In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), combine the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup and heat to about three quarters of the chocolate. thoroughly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a flexible spatula. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate melts completely. (Alternatively, you can microwave chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup on HIGH in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second bursts for about 90 seconds, stirring between bursts, until a thick, shiny sauce forms.) Let cool completely.

About 20 minutes before ready to assemble, transfer ice cream to counter to soften. Using an offset spatula or large spoon, spread the softened ice cream evenly over the frozen pretzel crust, then sprinkle the peanuts, gently pressing them into the ice cream.

Transfer to the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes (even if your ganache is completely chilled, it’s a good idea to let the ice cream and peanuts harden in the freezer, about 20 minutes, before adding the ganache).

Pour the ganache over the peanuts and spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon until smooth. Sprinkle with finely chopped peanuts and crushed pretzels and return to freezer until firm, at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the bars into 16 or 24 squares, being careful not to mark the bottom of the pan. Run the knife under hot water and dry it after each slice. Use an offset spatula to lift the bars from the mold.

NOTE: Finely ground pretzels should be a mixture of tiny crumbs, as well as dusty bits – you want to avoid direct dust.


Origin of the recipe

From cookbook author Jessie Sheehan.

Tested by Suzy Leonard.

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