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Introducing the most craveable homemade candy ever, this Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark has it all! From chewy, buttery caramel to salty, crunchy pretzel twists, to rich dark chocolate, this treat is guaranteed to score major points with everybody who loves anything with pretzels, caramel, and chocolate.
When it comes to candy, I can say no to pretty much anything from the store any time. It holds no power over me. But homemade candy on the other hand? That's a whole different story.
Especially when the homemade candy in question involves chocolate, caramel, and pretzels. It's the triple combination guaranteed to sink my willpower to its knees.
This easy chocolate caramel pretzel bark is essentially an allergy friendly take on classic turtles candy. Except we are subbing in pretzels for the typical pecans and skipping the fussy assembly in favor of just spreading everything into a slab and cutting it into chunks once it's set up. Way less effort but same reward? Sign me up.
Why this Recipe Works
- I use semisweet or dark chocolate for my pretzel bark because personally I think it pairs best with the sweetness of the caramel. But if you are a milk chocolate type of person, by all means use that instead!
- The caramel is homemade but don't let that intimidate you. It's no-stir and practically hands off. All you need is a good candy thermometer to clip to the side of the pan and about 15 minutes.
- You can easily double or triple the batch to have plenty for bake sales or taking to share with friends and neighbors during the holidays.
- Pretzels: You will need half a bag of the mini pretzel twists. Although you could use the pretzel snaps if that's what you have on hand.
- Chocolate: I used semisweet chocolate chips melted with a little coconut oil or shortening which helps it set up shiny with a nice snap. You could also use the Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers instead.
- Heavy cream: This makes for the most buttery, rich caramel you've ever had in your life!
- Corn syrup: I used light corn syrup, but dark would work just as well. Your caramel will just have a darker color than what you see here.
How to Make This Recipe
Start by making the caramel first so it has time to cool and set up a bit before pouring it over the bark.
In a heavy duty medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cubed butter, corn syrup, half of the heavy cream, and salt over medium-low heat. Stir just until the butter has melted, then stop stirring and clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan.
Increase the heat slightly to medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer, but not a rolling boil. You just don't want to rush the process or cook over too high of heat or you run the risk of burning the caramel.
Continue to cook the caramel without stirring (I know, it sounds scary, but trust me) until it reaches 236°F.
Pour the remaining ½ cup of the heavy cream into the caramel while it cooks (I pour it in a circle instead of right in one spot), then let the caramel continue to cook over medium-low to medium heat until the temperature reaches 245 to 248°F on the candy thermometer . The temp will drop at first when you add the cold cream, but it will come back up and turn into the most beautifully golden brown caramel of your life.
Remove the caramel from the stovetop and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes while you work on the rest of the bark.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl using short 20 to 30 second bursts of heat. Stir well between each interval until the chocolate is melted. If your microwave has a "melt chocolate" feature, I would recommend using it. Other was you can reduce the power to 50% to make sure you don't overheat the chocolate.
Spread ½ to ⅔ of the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an even layer.
While the chocolate is still warm, press the pretzels into it in an even layer. It's okay if they overlap slightly since the caramel will help bind everything together.
Pour the still warm caramel over the pretzels, trying to make sure it touches most of the pretzels so they all stick together. I like to intentionally leave a little bit of pretzel exposed though because I think it makes for prettier bark.
Use a spoon to drizzle or dollop and spread the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the bark, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt so it sticks to the chocolate and caramel before they have a chance to set up all the way.
Once the chocolate has fully hardened and the caramel has cooled completely, the bark can be cut into bars or small pieces for sharing. You can speed up the process by sticking the pan into the fridge or freezer, but it will set up at room temperature after about 2-3 hours on its own.
I personally like using the "melt" feature on my microwave for melting chocolate in short bursts of heat, stirring between each interval. But you can definitely melt the chocolate in a double boiler over a pan of simmering water instead if that's easier for you. You can even use your Instant Pot as a double boiler and nestle a heat-safe glass bowl down into the top and melt your chocolate that way instead of on the stovetop.
You betcha! You just need to use your favorite gluten-free pretzels. Everything else is already naturally gluten-free.
- Storage: The candy will keep well in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks at room temperature.
- Freezing: You can freeze the bark for 2-3 months in an airtight container. Let it thaw at room temperature for an hour before serving.
- High altitude cooking: I live in California almost at sea level. If you live at higher elevations, the rule of thumb for candy making is to decrease your target temperature by 2 degrees fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level.
- Using Kraft caramels: If you would rather skip making the homemade caramel, you could use Kraft caramels instead and melt them with a little bit of heavy cream, half-and-half, or evaporated milk. Follow the directions in my Homemade Turtles Candy post where I share how to take this approach!
More Recipes Like This
- Carmelitas (Oatmeal, Chocolate, Caramel Bars)
- Peppermint Bark Caramel Corn
- Chocolate Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies
- Gourmet Homemade Caramel Apples
Chocolate Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark
- 1 cups granulated sugar (200g)
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter, cubed (85g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (18 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 8 ounces pretzel twists (half of a regular 16-ounce bag)
- Flaky Maldon salt or sea salt for sprinkling
- In a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, ½ cup of the cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Cook and stir until the butter has completely melted, but do not increase the heat to speed up the process.
- Once the butter has melted, stop stirring and increase the heat just to medium to bring the caramel to barely a simmer, but not a rapid boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook without stirring on medium-low to medium heat until the caramel comes to 236°F.
- Pour in the remaining ½ cup of cream and continue to cook without stirring. The temperature will drop initially but start to come back up quickly. Let the caramel simmer until it reaches 245 to 248°F on the candy thermometer. Be careful not to rush the process by increasing the heat or the caramel may burn.
- Remove the caramel from the heat, then stir in the vanilla extract. Let the caramel rest for 10-15 minutes to cool and thicken slightly before using.
- While the caramel cools, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a large microwave-safe bowl using short 20-30 second bursts of heat in the microwave. Stir well between each interval until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Evenly spread about ⅔ of the chocolate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top with the pretzels, sprinkling them evenly over the chocolate and pressing them in gently. It's okay for them to overlap slightly.
- Pour the caramel evenly over the pretzels. The caramel will hold the bark together, so try to make sure it's touching each of the pretzels if possible.
- Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate over the top of the bark with a spoon or by transferring it to a plastic bag and snipping off one corner and piping it on. Sprinkle with a generous amount of flaky salt (as much as you want) before the chocolate and caramel has a chance to set.
- Let the bark set until the caramel has firmed up and the chocolate is solid, about 2 hours. You can stick it in the fridge to speed up the process. Once the bark is set, cut it into pieces to serve.
- Storage: Keep the finished bark in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Freezing: This bark can be frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw on the counter before enjoying.