One of my favorite things to decorate and give away at the holidays is dipped pretzel rods. They’re easy, relatively inexpensive, and universally loved by kids and adults alike. One of the greatest things is that you can customize them according to tastes and holidays–in October, I made dark chocolate/white chocolate magic wands dipped in colored sprinkles. For this go-around, I was inspired by everyone’s caramel apple suggestions and REALLY wanted to do caramel, white chocolate, and cinnamon sugar for the pretzels. Here is what I discovered:
1) Tasty as homemade caramel is, it’s too thick, rich, and chewy to work on pretzels. You wind up with a mouthful of stickiness that’s too hard to eat. Just buy a bag of Kraft caramels and don’t beat yourself up about it. Also, homemade caramel is too thick on the pretzels. And they kept snapping in half after the caramel hardened. It just did not work for me on so many levels.
2) The cinnamon sugar, while great in theory, was too sweet on the pretzels. Also, it wasn’t very pretty. I’ve toyed with the idea of mixing cinnamon (no sugar) in with the white chocolate before drizzling it on the pretzels. Someone do me a favor and try that and let me know how it goes!
3) You can do this however the heck you want. Try caramel. Chocolate. White chocolate. Sprinkles. Crushed candy canes. Get creative and festive and have fun!
This isn’t so much a recipe as it is an idea, so I’ll just give you some helpful tips I’ve discovered along the way.
—Walmart pretzel rods are the worst. I guarantee, at least 1/2 the bag will be broken when you buy it. Rold Gold pretzels look pretty in the bag, but the snappage factor is pretty high. I actually have found that Kroger pretzels are perfect for dipping! Who knew…
–If dipping in chocolate, melt 1 c. chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips) with 1-2 tsp. SHORTENING or vegetable oil (never, ever butter or olive oil; it will end in disaster) in the microwave, stirring at 30 second intervals. For drizzling, dip a fork in melted chocolate and drizzle as desired. Almond bark and Chocolate bark works great too.
–Keep the layers thin. It’s tempting to load those puppies up, but pretzels are pretty fragile and you still want to be able to taste the pretzel underneath everything else.
–You want to dip the base layer about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down the pretzel. To make any dipping easy, you can either melt the chocolate (or caramel…or whatever) on the stove top and transfer it to a mug or just melt it directly in the mug in the microwave. Then you can hold the pretzel in one hand and the mug handle in the other and maneuver it however you need to to coat the pretzel.–After dipping, allow the excess to drip back into the mug. You can also roll the pretzel rod between your hands to spin the excess back into the mug.
–After dipping or decorating each layer, you don’t want to ruin your pretty creation, so you can either allow them to harden with each end of the pretzel on a wide-mouthed bowl or you can use a cooling rack. Just be sure and spray whatever you use with non-stick cooking spray.
–Try to be patient and let the layers cool completely before dipping or drizzling. This is especially important if you’re using two different kinds of chocolate. Otherwise, they’ll melt right into each other and that ain’t pretty.