Hump Day Happy Hour: Beer Pretzel Caramels

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is make care packages filled with cookies, scones, muffins, and whatever else I think I can safely send through the U.S. Postal Service. Not only do I love giving my friends and family delicious Christmas treats, but I get to spend time in the kitchen listening to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin while not having to worry about gaining 8 dress sizes – ff you give it away, you don’t have to eat 5 dozen cookies by yourself.

This year, I have a candy thermometer and I plan on using it to add candy to my care packages. Caramels are relatively easy to make, and this recipe is particularly delicious. The addition of pretzels adds a fabulous layer of crunch, and the beer is a tasty addition to the creamy sweetness of traditional caramel. Plus, if you buy a 6-pack of beer, you’ll have 5 bottles left to enjoy. This recipe is slightly adapted from a recipe I found in “Oktoberfest Dinner,” Food Network Magazine, October 2011 issue.

Beer Pretzel Caramels

1 12-ounce bottle brown ale or porter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
7-ounces heavy cream
1 1/4  cup coarsely crushed pretzel sticks
wax paper for wrapping caramel

1)      Pour beer into a glass and let sit for about an hour, until it goes flat.

2)      Grease an 8-inch square dish lightly with canola oil.

3)      Pour half of the flat beer into a small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it has reduced to 2 tablespoons. This should take about 10 minutes.

4)      Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan combined corn syrup, brown sugar, remaining beer, butter, and heavy cream.

5)      Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reaches 235DEGf. This is the hardest part for me, staring at the thermometer – 10 minutes feels like hours. Be patient and drink one of the other beers from your 6-pack.

6)      As soon as the mixture reaches 235°F, remove from heat and stir in reduced porter and pretzel pieces.

7)      Pour into prepared dish (it will be hot, so I suggest placing a hot pad under the pan).  Chill in the fridge until firm, at least 1 hour.

8)      Cut into pieces and wrap using wax paper. Store in an airtight container.

7 responses to “Hump Day Happy Hour: Beer Pretzel Caramels

  1. Omg, these sound so good – I have a soft spot for salty caramels so I’ll have to try these. My friends have been begging for my salty caramels and I’m so behind, I haven’t even started them yet! Well, LOVE the video btw. Happy Holidays!!!

  2. Frankie, Dean, pretzels, and beer! Sounds like heaven to me!

  3. I’m going to have to go looking for my candy thermometer. These are great for mailing as there is no breaking or crumbling to worry about.

  4. How might this turn out if you used a chocolate bock?

    • Ooo, I love chocolate and pretzels, chocolate and caramel, pretzels and caramel, and beer goes with everything. I bet it will be great!

  5. What a neat recipe, I love the addition of beer to caramel.. this would be such a pretty Christmas gift!

    • I love finding unexpected recipes in the cooking magazines while standing in line at the grocery store! I would never have thought to flavor caramel with beer. I’m currently ruminating on a whiskey flavored caramel… I’ll let you know how it goes!

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