As I might have mentioned
100 a few times, I was lucky enough to be a contestant in the last two Pillsbury Bake Off Contests. The winner of the 47th contest was just announced live on The Chew tv show the other day, and boy was I thrilled that my new friend and fellow Virginian, Beth Royals, walked away with the Grand Prize of 1 MILLION dollars! Her absolutely addictive “Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters” are amazing, and I would encourage you to make a batch for your holiday cookie tray or exchange parties. The original recipe can be found here. Not wanting to be deprived of these treats in my nut-free home, I set about making a peanut-free version, “Soynutty Pie Crust Clusters” . It is a tad bit more involved than the original version (mostly because of the toffee chips!), but still took me around 30 minutes to throw together.
First, cut the pie dough into 16 strips in both directions. I did this on top of parchment, with my pizza cutter.
Then you spread the little pieces apart a bit, so that they don’t stick together. This part would totally appeal to those of you that are obsessed with crossword puzzles. It was kind of fun! Kids can help make this recipe easily, by the way…
Then you bake them at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.
While those were baking, I set about making my own toffee. It is super simple, takes about ten minutes, and is necessary if you want to avoid nut products. You also could buy nut free hard candies, such as Werthers Originals and crush them up, if you wanted to skip this step.
Just place butter and sugar in a pot over medium-high heat and whisk occasionally until it reaches 305 degrees (hard crack stage). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it will turn a lovely toffee color at this point. Pour out onto a lined pan onto parchment or Silpat mat. Let cool and bust into pieces with a mallet. Told you this was fun!
Not only do you get to bash toffee, but you get to smash pretzels in this version as well! Great holiday stress relief.
Now, put your white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. An aside about white chocolate chips- It is hard to find a coconut oil-free brand that is not made in a plant with nuts, but Trader Joes makes them, and they are perfect for this recipe. They do contain milk, however.
Anyhow, stick one bag of the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon crisco (butter variety or plain works as well), 1 tablespoon of soy-nut or sunbutter, and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well until completely melted.
Now all my bits and pieces are ready to go! Just fold the pie crust bits, the smashed up toffee, and the broken pretzels into the melted chocolate goodness.
Dollop onto parchment in little clusters.
Pop into the fridge for 15 minutes and you have the best sweet and salty munchie ever invented….1 million dollars good! Enjoy.
- 1 pillsbury pie crust, room temp and unrolled
- 1/3 cup toffee bits (recipe follows) or crushed hard caramel candies like Werthers
- 1 cup pretzels (Rold Gold is nut-free), broken into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 bag (2 cups) white chocolate baking chips (Trader Joes)
- 1 tablespoon crisco (butter flavored or plain)
- 1 tablespoon Soynut butter, golden peabutter, or sunbutter
- 2/3 cup salted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Cut pie crust into tiny squares or16 rows in each direction.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.
- Let cool.
- Meanwhile, make the toffee by combining the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
- Whisking occasionally, heat to 305 degrees or until toffee colored (about 10 minutes).
- Pour out onto a lined baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat .
- Spread out with an offset spatula and let cool completely.
- Break up into tiny pieces with a mallet or rolling pin.
- Place the pretzels into a zip topped bag.
- Crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
- In a large, microwave safe bowl, heat white chips, crisco and Soynut butter on high in 30 second intervals, until melted.
- Gently fold in pretzels, toffee bits, and pie crust pieces.
- Make sure that everything is coated.
- Dollop by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Store covered, if they last more than 10 minutes!
Some other allergy thoughts- If you have a peanut allergy, but are not allergic to tree nuts, you could add pecans or hazelnuts, lightly chopped.
If you are gluten-free, you could use Pillsbury’s gluten-free pie and pastry dough in place of the crust, and make sure to use gluten free pretzels.
If you are Milk free- you could use milk free chocolate chips in place of the white chips. A brand like Enjoy Life would work well. You could make the toffee with non-dairy margarine instead of butter.
If you are allergic to soy, use sunbutter or golden peabutter.
Cookie butter might also rock in this! Just a thought…