Friday, September 7, 2012

Dipped In Chocolate!

1 bag caramels -- (14 oz.)
2 teaspoons water
Nonstick cooking spray
1 bag pretzel rods -- (10-ounce)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I like to use milk
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (not butter)
1 cup very finely chopped pecans

Unwrap caramels and place in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add water. Microwave on High (100 percent) power 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute, until caramels are melted and smooth. (For ease of stirring, coat spoon with cooking spray.)

Coat a sheet of foil with cooking spray. Dip half of each pretzel into hot caramel; twirl to coat. Let excess drip from pretzel, and then place on coated foil.

Place chocolate chips and shortening in a clean 2-cup glass-measuring cup. Microwave on High for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until shortening melts, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate melts. Dip caramel- coated end of pretzel sticks in chocolate; roll tips in nuts. Refrigerate immediately. Remove from refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 24 pretzel sticks.

These make a wonderful treat to give to your guests if you have a Christmas party. Put them in a clear bag (approved for food) and close with a Christmas ribbon or colorful twist tie.

Chocolate Caramel Bark

Yield: 1 sheet of bark
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 pound bag of mini pretzels (you probably won’t use the whole bag)
12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover an 11×17 baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. While the butter is melting, place enough pretzels on the prepared baking sheet to form a single, even layer.
Once the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and stir well to incorporate. Allow the brown sugar and butter to simmer and bubble, but do not let it boil. You may need to adjust the temperature to low. Stir the butter-sugar mixture occasionally. It should take about 3 minutes for the butter and sugar to caramelize, but keep a close eye on it because it will burn quickly.
When the sugar and butter have caramelized, pour the mixture evenly over the pretzels, strafing it back and forth down the length of the sheet. The caramel hardens quickly so it’s important to pour it as evenly and quickly as possible. If there are any clumps, use an offset spatula to spread the caramel as best you can. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Use a microwave safe bowl to make the chocolate layer. Microwave chocolate chips in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring after each interval, until smooth. The chocolate should melt in only a couple of minutes.
By this time the pretzel-caramel mixture should be out of the oven. Pour the chocolate over the pretzel-caramel mixture, strafing it down the length of the baking sheet just as you did for with the caramel layer. Again, move evenly and quickly. Use an offset spatula to smooth out any clumps or thick spots. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over chocolate before it starts to harden. Allow the baking sheet to harden in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
When the bark has cooled and hardened, remove from the fridge and carefully pull the aluminum foil off the back. Break the bark into pieces and serve. Best stored in the refrigerator.

**Edited on 12/17/11: Some readers have mentioned the caramel being too soft to spread the chocolate over top. If you’re experiencing the same problem you can put the caramel pretzel layer in the  freezer to help the hardening process.

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