I’ve mentioned before that my family is pretty serious about desserts – well, they’re even more serious about cookie swaps, or so I learned this weekend.
My Grammy Murphy is quite the grandmother – she was the first of anyone to get AOL, email and a ‘screen name’, her recipes for things like whoopie pies and pecan rolls are legendary (even though they never taste quite as good as when she makes them), and at 84, she still manages to have more style than I will ever have in my entire lifetime. AND, her new digs at the Assisted Living facility she just recently moved into are straight up 5-star, making Dave and I’s ‘love nest’ look like just that – a nest – made of sticks – where birds live. But if anyone deserves a sweet pad to hang their hat, it’s grammy Murphy – so that makes me just a little less bitter about it 🙂
My mom organized a cookie swap with all my Aunt’s this weekend to put some trays together for all those fab people who are there to help my grandparents on a day -to-day basis and everyone dawned their best baked goods and prettiest bows and ribbons to make some seriously good looking goody trays. Coming from a family that loves to bake, I think that the best part of the holiday season is that a huge tray of freshly baked treats wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a bow can be just as great a gift as a cashmere scarf or that blender you’ve been eyeing all year – and appreciated just as much, if not more, because there’s the added ingredient of TLC in them!
One of my favorites are these amazingly easy to make Chocolate Dipped Pretzels. I can’t remember when my cousin Jen started making these, but like many other things in the Murphy Family, they must be present on the dessert table for at least one Holiday to avoid stomping, shouting and crying fits – and that’s just my reaction! Pretty basic I know – pretzel – chocolate – dip – let dry – repeat. But, she took them to a new level by adding fun toppings and even hidden surprises like a slab of peanut butter hidden under the chocolate. So while being visually appealing, they’re equally as tummy appealing, especially when you bite into one and say “Wait, is that….is THAT what I think it is?”.
Holiday Chocolate Pretzels
* Adapted from my cousin Jen (if you think these are good, you should see her Trifle!) and Twist, A Unique Approach to Pretzels
mini salted pretzels
milk/dark/white chocolate (one or all three!)
*again, I use the Trader Joe’s 1lb chocolate bars and Ghiradellis’ White Chocolate Chips
1) Lay out your pretzels on wax paper-lined cookie sheets or wire racks.
2) In a double boiler (or in the microwave), temper your chocolate. To temper, take about 2/3 of the chocolate and place it in the double boiler (or microwave-safe dish). When the chocolate starts to really melt, remove it from the heat and add the remaining unmelted chocolate to the pan, stirring constantly until it melts into the melted stuff. The tempering will provide a nice shiny looking chocolate and avoid those unsightly little white spots that can sometimes pop up on chocolate. If you’re doing 2 or 3 different kinds of chocolate, be sure to repeat this process with each kind.
3) Assemble your pretzels:
For the Peanut Butter/Fluff pretzel – on one half of your pretzel, take about 1/2 tsp. of peanut butter and 1/2 tsp. of fluff, and stick them on the 1/2 of the pretzel that will go in the chocolate. Then dip that side in the chocolate and place on wax paper to dry. Top with sprinkles (or if you’re feeling really fiesty, mini peanut butter chocolate chips or rescees pieces!)
For the Nutella Pretzel – repeat the same process as above, only with Nutella. Top with sprinkles like I did, or for the fiesty (and not cheap like I am) dipper, sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts on the top.
For the Heath Bar Pretzel – dip pretzel in chocolate (with no filling) and sprinkle with Heath Bits (you can find those in the baking section a the grocery store)
For the Almond Joy Pretzel – same as above, and sprinkle with chopped almonds (I used the sliced almonds) and coconut
Honestly people, I think the thing I love so much about these is that your options are essentially endless – I had soooo many other ideas but 1) it’s a week night and 2) I still have a sugar hangover from the swap yesterday, so I kept my pretzels to a minimum. But really, you could do a spin on the last post, and do Dark Mint Chocolate with either Oreo crumbles or Peppermint bits. These are fun, so easy, and a serious crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t love Chocolate Covered Pretzels? I mean, really? They also wrap/travel really well, so load them into a holiday tin with some wax paper, or a fun jar with a snap top!
So shake up your Cookie Swap this year – be the mysterious swapper that brings Chocolate Pretzels instead of Chocolate Chip Cookies or Peanut Butter Kisses – make them wonder – and drool at the same time 🙂
This weekend is really special for a LOT of reasons:
- It’s Memorial Day, which means summer is right around the corner at the local bar, waiting for us to meet it!
- It’s the first holiday off from work I’ve had since New Year’s Day (it was a LONGGGG winter – oye)
- One of my bestest friends from home is getting MARRIED!!!
I’ve known my friend Katie since middle school – she was kind of a ‘bad-ass’ who liked SilverChair and wore ‘skater’ sneakers and I was a preppy nerd that listened to Color Me Badd and wore Champion Sweatshirts with Stretch Pants for the better part of my adolescense. But nevertheless, Katie and I became friends, stayed friends all through High School, and College, heck we even lived together for a year! I was actually there the night that I believe commenced the ‘BF/GF’ stage of the VaJandas. We were out celebrating a birthday with these ‘guys’ that Katie and a couple other gal pals had met a couple weeks beforehand at a bar. And on this fateful night, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some serious VaJanda smooching action. I think it was then I knew that Sarin was going to be around for more than just last call!
And a few years later, on this Memorial Day weekend, they’re getting married, in a gorgeous barn right outside of Boston and it’s going to be hot and sunny and just the most perfect day ever!
Last year, before my food blogging adventure began, I started this wacky little hobby involving chocolate covered pretzels, one of my most favorite snacks in the world. I did a lot of dipping and drizzling, ate a lot of chocolate, and had lots of fun doing it. And Katie had asked me all the way back then to make favors for her wedding. And I thought maybe she’d come up with a better idea between then and now, like ya know, candles or some other fun favor you get at a wedding, but she didn’t!
Katie and Sarin’s Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
(*this will yield about 2 or 3 dozen)
1 bar of Milk or Dark Chocolate, broken up into pieces
(I use the Trader Joe’s ones – and after I’ve eaten about 10 squares of chocolate to make sure it tastes ok, then I get down to business)
1 bag of UTZ Sourdough Special pretzels
(a nice size for a medium/large sized pretzel – you could use your favorite though)
Wilton Colored Chocolate Melts
(like the kind you buy at Michaels or AC Moore to make chocolate pops or candies – they have a zillion colors – I used white and blue to match Katie’s color scheme)
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED:
(recommended, but you can ‘make your own’ if you don’t have one)
Silver or Plastic tongs
Plastic Drizzle Bottles
(can be purchased in the candy making section at your local craft store)
Wax paper/wire racks
1) Fill the bottom pan of your double boiler with water and let it come to a boil. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can take a regular saucepan and fill it with water. Just make sure you have another pan/bowl that will fit on top of it for the chocolate to melt in.
2) When the water starts to boil, you can add the broken chocolate pieces to the top sauce pan. Only place 2/3 of the chocolate pieces in, reserving 1/3 of it until later. Make sure to keep stirring the chocolate as it melts.
3) When the chocolate has melted in the top pan, remove it from heat, and add the other 1/3 of the broken chocolate pieces to the melted chocolate – stir until these pieces melt completely. (this is known as ‘tempering’ your chocolate)
4) Take your pretzels and drop one or two (depending on how large your pan is) into the chocolate, submerging them so that they are completely covered.
5) Once they have been covered, remove the pretzel from the chocolate with your tongs. Set on a wire cooling rack covered with wax paper to let dry.
6) Once all of your pretzels have been dipped, you can now begin the ‘drizzle’ process – repeat the same process that you did with the milk/dark chocolate with the candy melts (if you have more than one color, you could set up two double boilers, just keep an eye on them as they melt so they don’t burn).
7) Once the candy melts are completely melted, pour the chocolate into the drizzle bottles. If you have two different colors, you can alternate (I did white first, then blue) or if you have just one, you could do a couple different layers of drizzle over the pretzel.
8) Optional – to give them a more ‘finished’ look, I will finish the pretzels off with a top layer of milk or dark chocolate drizzle, depending on which type I used. Again, this is optional – it’s a bit more work (and bottle cleaning) but I think it just gives it a more complete look. But that’s just me!
9) Depending on what your plan is for the pretzels, when they are completely dry (this could take a while – when the chocolate is no longer shiny, you’re safe) , you can lay them out on a pretty platter, or wrap them individually in cellophane bags, tied with some pretty ribbon. For Katie and Sarin, it was a super cute brown take out box, with some green moss, tied with the same twine they used for their wedding invitations and fun sticker with their names on it.
So there it is folks: two late night dipping sessions, 140 boxes and 280 pretzels later, Katie and Sarin’s Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, for the chocolate dipped pretzel lover in you. I know they’re pretty basic, but this method seems to work well for me. But it’s a free country – dip as you see fit!
And to Katie and Sarin – have the BEST day tomorrow! Enjoy every last second – and every last bite of your pretzels 🙂
Stay tuned to find out…