Quickly running into Trader Joe's one day, I had a moment of weakness at the register. As I came up to pay for my healthy fruits and veggies, there at the display right before the check out was what can only be described as chocolate crack. At Trader Joe's it goes by the name of Ruggedly Awesome Cowboy Bark. Sucked in by dark chocolate studded with sandwich cookie pieces, pretzels, peanuts, almonds and toffee bits, I bought a bag. Then I immediately got in the car, opened the bag and indulged. Holy crap this stuff is good. I may have hid the bag in the car and never told Dave about it, just selfishly nibbling a piece to make the commute home that much more bearable. And possibly a second bag was purchased without my husband's knowledge until I realized this stuff would be far cheaper to make myself. So the last crumbs and pieces made their way into the kitchen (and Dave was introduced) so I could mimic this delicious sweet, salty, chocolatey treat. Besides being cheaper to make yourself, this recipe makes way more than you'd get in the package from TJ's, making it an even better value. But really, the important thing is that you can whip this up in no time, particularly helpful when you don't have time to get to Trader Joe's. This is a crave-able candy, and you're going to want it often.
The packaging tells you all the good stuff that's mixed into this bark, so that part wasn't difficult to figure out. The hard parts were a) the ratios; and b) how to get it all to stay together. I attempted my interpretation twice. The first try was delicious, with the chocolate layer placed first and all the goodies sprinkled on top. Unfortunately, the nuts (mostly) didn't stick so the bites were predominantly chocolate, pretzel and cookie, with a dusting of nuts and toffee. So I decided to flip it, putting the goodies on the bottom of the pan then spreading the chocolate on top. Once set, I flipped it and the result was great. While you'll still get some crumbs coming off (as you will in the packaged version) each bite is still littered with every delicious morsel combined to make this amazing and fantastic treat. There's a good chance you have what you need in your pantry now, so make this, eat it, repeat. Sharing optional.
|Ignore the cream--I decided against it and was glad I didn't use it|
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup mini pretzel twists
8 chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate or vanilla filling
24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with a silicon mat or waxed paper. Chop almonds and peanuts. Place in a medium bowl with toffee bits.
Place pretzels in a single layer on a flexible cutting mat. Using a meat mallet, gently tap each pretzel to break into a few pieces, taking care not to crush completely. Break sandwich cookies into quarters or so, either with the mallet, knife or your fingers. Place pretzels and cookies in bowl with nuts and toffee. Toss to combine.
Spread mixture in a layer in the lined pan.
Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove, stir and return to microwave for another 30 seconds on high. Stir again, then microwave for 30 seconds at 80% power. Stir again, then microwave for another 30 seconds at 60% power stir until completely melted. If necessary, microwave in 15 second increments at 50% power until melted.
Pour melted chocolate over the nut/pretzel mixture, spreading to an even layer with an offset spatula, coating the goodies.
Chill for 30-60 minutes until set. This can be chilled longer. Remove from refrigerator and turn out onto a flexible cutting mat.
Using a bench knife or a sharp knife, cut into random chunks.
Store in an airtight container (and hide).
Makes a big ol' bucket of bark.
The Cookie Princess
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