If the combination of cool and creamy vanilla ice cream, fudgy, thick chocolate ganache, salty pretzels and crunchy peanuts sounds like something you can get behind, this easy ice cream bar dessert is for you.
Inspired by two Dairy Queen treats, the Dilly Bar (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate) and the Buster Bar (vanilla ice cream, plus peanuts and swirls of fudge dipped in chocolate), cookbook author Jessie Sheehan’s snack bar dessert is all that, and then some. The no-bake pretzel crust is layered with softened store-bought ice cream (Sheehan likes vanilla here, but you do you), followed by a layer of coarsely chopped, roasted and salted peanuts and topped with a silky chocolate ganache.
To finish, Sheehan sprinkles more chopped peanuts and crushed pretzels over the chocolate, giving the bars extra salt and crunch. After a few hours in the freezer, the dessert is sliced into bars to satisfy all the salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy or chocolate-y cravings.
Active team: 45 mins; Total team: 3 hours 45 minutes
Make Ahead: The crust can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 days.
Storage Notes: The bars can be frozen in a zip-top bag for up to 2 weeks.
Tested size: 16 servings; 2-by-3-inch bars
- 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 zip-top 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 topping
9 ounces (255 grams) chopped semisweet 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, roughly chopped
About 1 tablespoon each finely chopped peanuts and crushed pretzels, for sprinkling
Make the crust: Grease the bottom of a 9-by-13-by-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 fully incorporated and the mixture is the consistency of 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 doesn’t touch the water) combine the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup and warm until about three-quarters of the chocolate melts, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a flexible spatula. Removes from the heat and stir until the chocolate melts completely. (Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolate, heavy cream and corn syrup on HIGH in a microwave-safe bowl, in 30-second bursts, for about 90 seconds, stirring in between bursts, until a thick and glossy sauce forms.) Let cool completely.
About 20 minutes before you’re ready to assemble, transfer the ice cream to the counter to soften. Using an offset spatula or a large spoon, evenly spread the softened ice cream over the frozen pretzel crust, then sprinkle with the peanuts, pressing them gently into the ice cream.
Transfer to the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes (even if your ganache has completely cooled, it’s a good idea to let the ice cream and peanuts harden in the freezer, for about 20 minutes, before adding the ganache).
Pour the ganache over the peanuts and evenly spread with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon until smooth. Sprinkle with the finely chopped peanuts and crushed pretzel to the freezer until at least 3 hours and firm overnight.
Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the bars into 16 or 24 squares, taking care not to score 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 pan.
NOTE: The finely ground pretzels should be a mixture of tiny crumbs, as well as dusty bits – you want to avoid straight-up dust.
From cookbook author Jessie Sheehan.
Tested by Suzy Leonard.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.