Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chocolate Pretzels

Chocolate pretzels are just the thing to nibble on for those who don't like sweet cookies.  Pretzels are generally known to be savory, but why not add a little sugar and make them into a completely different treat?  As part of The Monthly Cookie, I'd like to show you how this version and interpretation of a pretzel can easily be made at home.  Let the kids help make these cookies.  Forming and twisting them is a bit like playing around with play-doh, except that you get to bake and eat the final product.  Let's begin!

 

The Chocolate Pretzel.



The Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons dutch process cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egge white (for glaze)
  • clear coarse sanding sugar (for topping)

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In a heat proof bowl, blend the cocoa & boiling water until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
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Beat the butter in the bowl of your mixer on medium speed, until it is light & creamy, about one minute.  Scrape down your bowl & paddle attachment (or beaters if using a handheld mixer). 



Add your granulated sugar and beat until the butter & sugar are lightened, about 2 additional minutes.  Next, add your large egg and both extracts.  Let the egg emulsify; scrape down your bowl & paddle at least once during this process.  In a bowl, whisk your flour & salt.  Add these to your egg, butter and sugar mixture on low speed. 

The cookie dough will look crumbly.  Stop your mixer and scrape the bowl.  Next, add your your cooled cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until it's fully mixed.

 
The dough will cling onto the paddle attachment and get smooth.  Shape your dough into a disk, cover well with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 



Preheat your oven to 350° F.



Unwrap your cookie dough & divide into quarters.  Divide each quarter into 8 pieces.  This will yield 32 pretzel cookies.



Roll each piece of cookie dough on a smooth surface into a 10" rope; the dough will roll nicely & won't stick.  Gather each end of the rope and loop into a circle.  Overlap & cross the rope ends (picture above).


Give the ends one final twist & leave the tips splayed.

 
Place each cookie on a baking sheet lined with silpats or parchment, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  With a pastry brush, apply the egg white to the tops of all the cookies.

 
Sprinkle coarse sanding sugar over each pretzel.  Promtly place them in your oven with the racks in the lower middle half, and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking for even browning. 

 
Let the cookies cool on racks.

Here's a cloeseup of a glazed & sugared chocolate pretzel.



I must admit that this was my first chocolate pretzel ever.  There are times when we crave something sweet, but not too sweet.  This is the cookie to have for such moments.  I can see people packing these into lunch bags for work or for the kids to take to school.  At home, the cookies will keep in an airtight cookie jar for about 3 days, but why not share them with friends & neighbors?  I suppose if you feel like having a slightly sweeter cookie, you could add a few more tablespoons of sugar to the batter, but quite honestly, a pretzel should never be too sweet or too salty.  Enjoy making these chocolate treats!



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