Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

For me, the long holiday weekend was:
1. soooo enjoyable to have 4 days off from work
2. chock full of quality friends and family time
3. filled with lots {and I mean, lots} of eating delicious food

When Shaun and I realized that we’d be hitting the Jersey BBQ circuit over the holiday, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to test out some baked goods that I’ve been cooking up in my head.

When I think of baking for barbecues (or most parties for that matter), my mind immediately travels to something portable - a dessert that must meet the following:
1. it’s already portioned out on arrival, leaving a hand-over situation with the host(ess)
2. it can be easily nabbed off a platter - no tools, mess, or fuss
3. it can be eaten with nothing more than a thumb and index finger
4. the recipe makes a giant batch. If I’m going all out for a decadent dessert, you better believe that I plan to make a lot of it. No one gets left behind.

With all of these criteria in mind, I can really only think of one thing...bars. Brownies, blondies, cookie bars, cake bars...any of these are ideal for a party.

So with bars on the brain, I devised a fun and festive brownie recipe that is one for the permanent collection. Fudgy brownies. A buttery, salted pretzel crust. Fluffy white buttercream. With no less than 4 sticks of butter in this dessert, your skinny jeans will hate you for it, but your taste buds will rejoice. It’s a sweet, salty and mouthwatering brownie bar that I just can’t get enough of.

Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
for the crust:
4 C pretzels
¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
½ C sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13x9” baking pan with foil, letting some hang over the edges. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter and flour.

Process pretzels in a food processor until chopped small, but not too finely. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave.
Transfer the pretzels to a mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar.
Mix in the melted butter. Press into a the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes or until the crust has set.

Cool in the refrigerator while you make the batter (note: I put the pan on a towel in the fridge so as not to break any glass shelves).

for the brownies:
*Adapted from BAKER’S One Bowl Brownies
4 oz BAKER’S unsweetened chocolate (4 squares)
¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 C all purpose flour

Change oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Combine the butter and chocolate squares in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 10 second intervals until the butter is melted.
Transfer the butter/chocolate mixture to a mixing bowl or the bowl in your stand mixer.
With a rubber spatula, mix the chocolate pieces in the butter until they are completely melted.
Mix in the sugar (I used the paddle attachment on my mixer, but by hand will probably work too!)
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Mix in the flour.

Pour over the cooled pretzel crust and carefully smooth the edges so as not to pick up any pretzels.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean, but with a few fudgy crumbs. BUT, make sure that the middle has set!
Once the bars have completely (!) cooled, remove from the pan by carefully lifting out the bars from the pan using the foil overhang.

for the frosting:
½ C unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
3 C confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

In the stand of an electric mixer fitted w/paddle (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, one cup at a time until completely combined.
Mix in the vanilla and milk (if the frosting is too thick, add more).
Once completely combined, carefully spread over the cooled brownies.

And while you're at it, feel free to sample. You deserve it.

Cut the brownies into squares and garnish with a small pretzel.

This not only ups the cuteness factor, but also clues in the partygoers to what is actually in your dessert!ο»Ώ My tray made about 35 brownies - more than enough for a crew of hungry partiers.

So what do you think? What was your favorite dessert this holiday weekend?