Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels

I love sweet things. . .
I love salty things. . .
I love chocolate things. . .
I love caramel things. . .
I love salty, sweet, chocolaty, caramely things that are super easy to make and festive.
I love this recipe/project.

These Chocolate Caramel Pretzels fall into the same category as the Oreo Cookie Pops. Super duper easy to make but impressive. I call it a project as much as a recipe because you're really just putting stuff together. There are a lot of chocolate dipped _________ (fill in the blank) projects out there on the web but I like to take these pretzels a step further and add caramel. Sure I like chocolate, who doesn't? And a Chocolate Dipped Pretzel is the perfect marriage of chocolate, salty and bread. But . . . add caramel and they are out of this world. As far as I'm concerned, you could put caramel on just about anything and I'd eat it. It amazing how you just apply heat to regular old sugar and it becomes caramel. A true miracle. Well actually it's science, but I prefer "miracle". 

You can customize these with any combination of chocolate (or colored Wilton Candy Melts) and sprinkles for any occasion. Since it's October, I went with Halloween. Change it up and make it your own.

Here's what you need: Large pretzels*, soft caramels (I really like these "bits" because you don't waste a bunch of time unwrapping but you could also use wrapped or block caramel.), chocolate (I like the A'peels, see this post for more info.) and sprinkles.

*This is the first time I used these pretzels from Trader Joe's. They worked OK but I probably wouldn't use them again. See the end of the post for more on the best pretzels to use.

Lay the pretzels out on a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. This recipe will make 8-10 pretzels but my box of pretzels only had 6 intact pretzels. Grrrrr!

Place the caramel and 2 tablespoons water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute at a time until the caramel is smooth and melted. The caramel tends to get stiff so work quickly.

Dunk the top 1/2 of each pretzel in the caramel. You only want a light coating so shake most of it off and scrap the bottom on the rim of the bowl. This will prevent a puddle of caramel around the bottom of the pretzel. Although puddles of caramel are usually a good thing, it will make the chocolate dipping step a bit harder.

Lay the pretzels back on the cookie sheet and pop them in the refrigerator so the caramel will set up.

While the caramel is setting up, melt the chocolate. If you are using A'peels then you could also do this in the microwave, a minute at a time, stirring to melt the last bits. (If you are using real chocolate chips refer to this post for a quick way to temper.) If you think you'll get into this whole dipping stuff in chocolate thing then I definitely recommend one of these chocolate melting gadgets. The one I have is a Wilton product but Babycakes makes one as well. They are pretty inexpensive, even more so if you wait for a Michael's or Kohl's coupon.

Pour the sprinkles into a bowl that's big enough to catch the leftovers. I mixed two different sprinkle mixes together to get more color. I also prefer either just Jimmies or Jimmies & Quins. I don't like using just quins because they are too hard and crunchy.

When the chocolate is ready, dip each pretzel 1/2 way, making sure you cover all the caramel. Again a thin layer is best, so shake off as much excess chocolate as you can and lightly scrape off the bottom of the pretzel on the rim of the bowl. Before the chocolate sets, add your sprinkles.

Then back on the cookie sheet to set up. You can leave them at room temp or speed things up by putting them in the refrigerator. They are best eaten at room temperature so after the chocolate is set, store them at room temperature.

There you have it, quick, easy, delicious and festive. Ready to go for your favorite Trick-or-Treaters. Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels
8-10 large pretzels
11 oz. soft caramel
2 T. water
Approx. 1-1/2 C. A'peels or chocolate chips.

Check out "Love From The Oven" blog for more pretzel dipping ideas and a video tutorial.

A quick word about the pretzels. . .

On the left is the Trader Joe's pretzel and on the right is the Snyder's Olde Tyme pretzel. The Snyder's pretzel is much thinner and they are more uniform in shape. They are also NOT sourdough so I think the flavor is a better compliment to the chocolate and caramel. Lastly they aren't as hard which makes them easier to bite into without crumbling all over the place and making a huge mess.

Here's what you're looking for in the store: The "Olde Tyme" (green label) would be my recommendation for this recipe. You could also use the "Rods" (orange label) which work great. I wouldn't recommend the "Sourdough Hard Pretzels" (yellow label) because you may have the same problems that I did with the Trader Joe's pretzels.

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