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The first food-based holiday of 2018 is nearly here. Are you ready for the Big Game? And by ready, I mean, armed with tons of snacks, appetizers, and finger foods to sustain you during that 4 hour marathon. Savory foods are always needed, but so is a little something sweet. We say both are necessary, and you may as well combine them. We’re all about making your life easier after all. Easy Maple Toffee Pretzel Bark is the best of both worlds, and soon to be your party all-star.
Not only will you have a dessert that will keep everyone talking, but you will pull off the party of the year with our all-star tips for success.
If you are hosting the party this year, get your game face on. Sure, you have a bit more to deal with, but you also get to show off some incredible dishes in a very casual way. That is one of the best parts of this food holiday. I mean football event.
In my experience, there are two types of guests at any sports party. Those that look forward to the game, and those that look forward to the food. Want to guess which category I identify with?
Seriously though, I actually do like football. I am a Chicagoan, and we love our sports here in the Midwest. But if I had to choose between the two? It will come as no surprise that I would side with the food.
How could I not though? When there is so much variety, endless options, combinations, and something to satisfy any craving.
All this and more is why being the host is the place to be. You have all the fun of cooking, but with very little pressure. Because serving 6 different chip and dip combinations is totally acceptable. And that is something to be celebrated.
I mean, all the choices! Loads of gourmet snacks, one pot meals, hearty appetizers, and comfort food classics. You cannot go wrong.
Even if you aren’t a football fan, you can thankfully still enjoy all the action. There is usually an outlet to move around and socialize instead of gathering around the TV.
Now that you know you will have fun regardless, let’s talk party specifics. To get ready for the big day, keep in mind a few key elements to any Big Game gathering.
Keep Things Simple
First, and most importantly, keep things simple. You don’t want to overcommit and get stuck preparing 8 dishes from scratch. Sure, you may be able to pull that off, but you want to enjoy your day too.
When preparing for the party, think about where you can take some short cuts. We have outlined some ideas to save you time and effort.
Purchase quality packaged snacks
These will be the vehicles for your dips, and can even stand alone as a snack. Turn to the new fan favorites for all your needs.
Think pretzels and cheese dip, kettle chips with french onion dip, and a quick homemade trail mix with dried fruit and pre-seasoned nuts.
Try adding spicy Sriracha Cashews with dried raisins, apricots, and even dark chocolate chips. It looks and feel gourmet, and takes you only a couple of minutes to toss in a bowl.
Most game day foods can be made well in advance, and stored in the refrigerator until your guests arrive.
Prepare dips, chop vegetables, and even cook your entire main course (if you are making one) a couple of days in advance.
This keeps your time free for last-minute details and allows you to actually spend time with your guests.
Ask For Help
Hopefully your guests ask what they can bring. Ideally, everyone pitches in and brings something.
If they don’t offer, assign your closet friends or family an item to contribute. Drinks, ice, and specific appetizers are all great requests.
Also, never feel bad accepting assistance the day of the party. Someone offers to wash your dishes? Let them. They want to help, and this cuts down on your responsibilities.
Include Plenty of Variety
Everyone has their own tastes and game day favorites. Including a variety of foods will ensure you satisfy everyone, and keep things easier on you by being prepared. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Finger Foods are Key
People will want to graze and sample many things, all while standing up or moving around. So think about mobility and ease of eating off a small plate.
Add Healthy Options
There will always be some guests who want a healthier option. Crudités, a veggie tray, hummus, salad, and fresh fruit are good to have on hand.
Trust me, I know, and am always this guest. It goes a long way to have a couple healthy items, and is especially helpful to those with kids as well.
Embrace the Basics
Classics are around for a reason. Charcuterie, slice and go cheeses, mixed nuts, and pre-packed dips are great additions.
It is perfectly fine to fall back on these crutches, and supplement with basics where you need to.
Have a Star of the Show
Whether you decide to prepare a main dish, or focus only on appetizers and snacks, you want one thing to really stand out.
Now that you saved time with our tips, you can focus efforts on one star of the show. This may be something really special, like a gourmet chili bar, loaded nachos, or epic sliders.
Whatever it may be, make sure it is something you know you can master. Preferably you would have made it before (so there are no failed attempts), and know it will be a crowed pleaser.
Don’t Forget About Dessert
Last and certainly not least, you need a little something sweet to end your night. There are always plenty of savory options at a big game day party. However, people love a little sweetness too.
Thankfully, you can offer both a sweet and salty option that pairs wonderfully with your entire spread. Our Easy Maple Toffee Pretzel Bark is the perfect complement, and satisfies the sweet and salty craving in one bite.
It will also resonate extremely well with the beer drinking crowd. Beer and pretzels are an obvious pairing, then you add in a rich buttery toffee, and you have dessert heaven.
Now that we have given you the ultimate dessert for your celebrations, we want to know. What else are you making for your game day spread? Let us know in the comments below.
- 6 ounces gluten-free pretzel sticks
- 1.5 cups grass-fed butter, ghee, or butter flavored coconut oil (see notes for tips)
- 1.5 cups maple sugar (see notes for substitutes)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 12 ounces gluten and dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add pretzel sticks to baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Remove any pretzels that won't fit, and set pan aside.
- Add butter and maple sugar to a medium sauce pan, and heat on medium. Stir frequently until butter melts, then increase heat slightly to bring mixture to a soft boil. Once boiling, cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramel begins to foam and thicken.
- Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Immediately drizzle caramel over pretzel pieces. Start at one end of the pan, and drizzle back and forth in a steady stream, covering as many of the pretzels as you can.
- Transfer pan to the preheated oven, and bake for 5-8 minutes. Caramel will thicken, bubble up, and distribute throughout the pan.
- Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of hot toffee. Transfer the pan back to the oven for another 2 minutes, or until chocolate begins to melt.
- Remove pan from oven, and use a spatula to spread chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let rest on a wire rack until cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, transfer to the refrigerator to finish setting. To speed things up, you can transfer pan to the freezer to set.
- Break into pieces and enjoy.
**Coconut sugar, or even brown sugar, can be substituted for maple sugar. If you can, find and use maple sugar though, it really elevates the flavor.
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Looking for more recipe inspiration for your big game party? Check out our other Football Favorites.
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