Happy New Year my loves! I don’t know about you, but I am SO excited that 2011 is finally here…so excited that I had to make swalty* pretzels to celebrate.
* Swalty = sweet and salty, a term coined by my friend “Jon” (name may or may not have been changed to protect the privacy of the innocent)
I know what you’re thinking – shouldn’t we be talking about spinach smoothies, grainy salads, or fish now that it’s January 1? Well, quite frankly, no! I am fully aware that about 99% of us resolve to eat healthier and exercise more come January, but I have to get something off of my chest: I have a comfort zone, and it involves butter and chocolate . And cheese, but that’s another post for another day. I’m tired of
setting myself up for failure following the crowd! The year I resolved to eat more sugar and saturated fat.
I want to give myself resolutions I can stick to, you see.
Besides, we have 364 days left to go to the gym. Today, just focus on making these pretzels. Trust me, the Stairmaster isn’t going anywhere.
Just to make some of you feel better, I used multigrain pretzels, thereby making these health food.
I just solved your internal dilemma, so let’s play already!
Here’s what you need:
White sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, sweetened condensed milk, sea salt, vanilla, pretzels, chocolate (I used milk and white).
Allow 1 c each of white and brown sugars and corn syrup, 1/2 c butter, and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk to get acquainted over medium heat.
Mood lighting optional.
Once everything has melted together and the mixture has come to a boil, set your timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly so the caramel doesn’t burn. I could tell you what temperature you’re looking for, but there really isn’t a need to complicate things today.
And also, I’m at my parents house right now and I’m not sure where my Mom keeps her candy thermometer.
Take the pot off the heat, and add vanilla extract or paste, and a pinch of sea salt.
Ladle up some of the caramel in a mug and begin dipping the pretzels!
Let the excess drip off, then put the pretzels on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat until you get bored, or until you run out of pretzels or caramel.
Let the caramel harden for a few hours at room temperature, or speed up the process by putting the pan in the fridge.
Both of my parents fridges are full to the brim, so I had no choice but to wait it out at room temperature.
So I ate some chocolate to console myself.
You can too, if you’re into that kind of thing.
I decided to use milk chocolate for these pretzels, but dark chocolate would also be nice. A word of caution – use good quality chocolate for these pretzels. I sampled a “melting wafer” and gagged, so I was very thankful that I had the foresight to throw a few bars of Belgium milk chocolate in the grocery cart the other day.
Melt the chocolate chunks with a smidge of butter in a bain marie or in a mug in the microwave if the idea of boiling water on the stove sounds like a lot of work to you.
If you choose to melt the chocolate in the microwave, as I did, make sure you don’t try to rush the process by zapping it at the highest heat. Low and slow is the way to go, and stir every 30 seconds or so.
Dip the caramel-covered pretzels in the chocolate, and place back on the parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. If you had a lot of excess caramel that didn’t stick to the pretzels, you might want to re-line the pan. Otherwise, the same one you used is probably fine.
Sprinkle the top with some flaky seat salt, if you feel so inclined.
Or what about drizzling the tops with some white chocolate?
You could really top these with anything you’d like – I was tempted to sprinkle the top with some chopped and toasted nuts, or some Craisins, or Skor chips, or even to stir a big spoonful of PB into the chocolate before dipping.
But you know what? I resisted. And these swalty pretzels are fabulous just as they are.
Don’t you just love healthy food?!?!
P.S. I made 2 cookie-sheets full of these pretzels and got bored, so I poured the leftover caramel into an 8 x 8″ pan that was lined with parchment paper.
I’m planning on cutting it into squares tomorrow for soft caramels, but if you could really do anything with the leftover caramel….dip some apples, some celery, or your arm, for example.
Don’t act like the thought didn’t already cross your mind.
To new New Years Resolutions involving chocolate and caramel instead of celery and Stairmasters – Cheers!