Chocolate Pretzel Buttons

In honor of Valentine’s Day coming next week….this holiday of all things love and chocolate I have a perfect little treat!    You can make these in bulk and give them to all of your special someones!

A friend of mine (Kelly)gave me this idea when I was trying to figure out something cute and edible for teachers this  past Christmas.    Once I made them, I was hooked!   They are so easy, you can do any combo of chocolates and they are the perfect combo of sweet and salty!  AND you can use any color M&M so these can be used for holidays, birthdays, sporting events, and they are still so cute!    So far I’ve done them for Christmas, for fun and for Valentine’s Day and they always get rave reviews!  I’ve done them with HUGS instead of KISSES and I’ve done them with dark chocolate and milk chocolate!    These have milk chocolate KISSES and dark chocolate M&Ms (not my first choice, but I couldn’t find regular and didn’t want to use peanut butter.)

Chocolate Pretzel Buttons

 Bag of pretzels (the square ones that look like little windows)

Bag of Hershey Kisses (or Hugs)

Bag of M&Ms (which ever colors you want)

Pam

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Spray Pam on baking sheet.

Lay pretzels on baking sheet — I get about 70-80 per sheet

Unwrap and put a Hershey Kiss on each pretzel

Place in oven (middle rack) for 3-4 minutes….keeping an eye that the kisses don’t melt and have their shape

Remove from oven and gently push an M&M into the center of the kiss

Place baking sheet in refrigerator until chocolate hardens (about an hour)

Store in air tight container or fridge

 ENJOY!!

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Thanks, Kelly!!!

~gianna~

Soft Pretzels

We had a snow day yesterday and since we’ve had so many snow days this winter I’m running out of things to do with the kids….we’ve baked, cooked, crafted, watched movies, played in the snow….and today we made homemade soft pretzels!  YUMMY!  They are a bit time consuming, but a perfect thing to do on a snow day!   It’s like playing with edible playdoh…..so we are crafting and eating at the same time!  BONUS!!!   And to up the ante even more…..for anyone on weight watchers or watching their weight…..these little gems are only 1 point each and delicious!  Get your littles involved too….mine love making different shapes!  We made hearts, figure 8s (or infinity symbols) and of course pretzel shapes!   We were feeling extra fun today…so we made a double batch!  

Soft Pretzels

1/8 cup hot water

1 package active dry yeast

1 1/3 warm water

1/3 cup brown sugar

4+ cups flour

Coarse kosher salt

Baking soda

Butter or shortening (to generously grease cookie sheets)

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In a large bowl mix together hot water and yeast until the yeast dissolves.  Stir in the warm water and brown sugar and mix until the brown sugar dissolves.

Slowly add 4 cups of flour, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour counter. Dip your hands into extra flour. Knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth. (Push it down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work)

Line cookie sheets with foil and generously with butter or shortening. Sprinkle greased cookie sheet(s) with kosher salt. Preheat oven to 475°. (It is very important that you grease the cookie sheets very well)

Using liquid measuring cup fill a large saucepan at least 1/2 full of water. For each 1 cup of water, add 1 tbsp baking soda.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces.

 Roll the dough into a rope 14″ long and as thick as your thumb. Bend the dough into a U shape. (if you have trouble rolling the dough into a rope slightly wet your hands and try again).

 Cross one end of the rope over the other one. The ropes should cross about three inches from the tips.

OR form into any shape you want!

Twist the crossed ends, making a full turn. Fold the ends back, towards the middle of the U.

Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape. Press the ends into the dough firmly.

Bring water in saucepan to a gentle boil (not too many bubbles) Use pancake turner or a scoop & drain to lower each pretzel into the saucepan. Count slowly to 30. Then lift the pretzel onto the greased and salted cookie sheet (shaking off excess water back into the saucepan). Repeat until all the pretzels are done.

Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the pretzels and put them in preheated oven.

Bake for 8 minutes or until the pretzels are golden.

**If you have a KA mixer, you can do all of this in there, and skip the kneading part. It makes things much easier! I used the mixer thing to mix it all then the hook to knead it all!!!!

ENJOY!!!

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~gianna~

Cheddar Ale Soup in Soft Pretzel Bowls

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website for Cheddar Ale soup…it sounded delicious but I didn’t have all the ingredients….so I filed it on my computer for another day.     I recently got a Mac and I’m still (3+ months later) trying to figure it out.  I went to find the recipe and couldn’t remember where I filed it…..so I did a quick google search for Cheddar Ale Soup and not only did I find the original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma), but I found someone that made THAT soup served in a………..wait for it……………..

A pretzel bowl!   

It has all the makings of the perfect game day food (or any day food, really)!    I could probably poll 100 men (and women too) and 90% would say at least 3 of these ingredients are on their “Top 10 Favorite Foods” list!   Cheese…….Check!  Bacon…..Check!  Beer……Check!  Pretzels……CHECK!!!   Pure Genius!  

 All day my house smelled amazing, from the pretzel dough rising on the counter, to the soup simmering on the stove, to the pretzel bowls baking in the oven…..it was heaven!  And the taste was even better!  It was delicious and the best part….I didn’t have bowls to wash after because we got to eat them!

 I’m not going to lie or even try to minimize this meal…..it takes awhile to make and it’s pretty tedious and there are lots of pans and bowls to wash (but no soup bowls!!!).  I was in the kitchen a lot this morning, more than I like to be.   When I wasn’t actually standing at the stove, I was checking on things, but if you have some time and want to make a yummy meal DO IT..I dare you!  You won’t be disappointed!  File this one away for when you are home on a snowy day or a weekend when you have extra time to spend cooking!   I actually did most of the prep and cooking of this meal in the morning and then finished it up around dinner time, because I had time while my kids were in school.  It actually worked out nicely!  You don’t have to do the pretzel bowls either…you can serve the soup in regular bowls….but I highly suggest the edible ones!  My kids loved them, and I can’t lie…..I did too! 

Pretzel Bowls

(Thank You Fake Ginger)

Makes 4 Bowls

5 1/2 cups bread flour

2 envelopes of quick-rising yeast

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

4 cups + another tablespoon or 2 of hot water (very hot, but not boiled)

Cornmeal

8 cups of water

1/4 cup baking soda

2 Tbsp sugar

1 egg white (beaten to blend)

Coarse Salt (I didn’t have this, so I left it out…I also don’t like salt on my pretzels — I’m weird

Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water in stand mixer (or large bowl) and mix until dough comes together in a ball.   Switch stand mixer to kneading attachment and knead for 5 minutes.  Or put dough on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or until elastic and smooth.  Grease medium bowl.  Add dough to bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume (about 35 minutes).

Flour baking sheet.   Knead on lightly floured surface.   Diving into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place on floured baking sheet.  Cover with towel and let sit for approx. 20 minutes until balls double in volume.  

Preheat oven to 375°.   Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Bring 8 cups of water to boil in large sauce pan.   Add baking soda and sugar (it will foam — don’t panic).    Add one ball of dough to water with slotted spoon and let sit for 30 seconds.  Flip ball and let sit for another 30 seconds.   Transfer ball 9with slotted spoon) to prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining bowls.

Brush rolls with egg white.  Sprinkle generously with salt (or omit like I did).  Bake rolls until brown about 25-30 minutes.   Transfer to wire racks and let cool.  

Using a sharp knife, work on a diagonal in a circle to remove a hole in the top.  Remove top and then hollow out the middles of the rolls to make a bowl.  Do this gently so you don’t puncture a hole in the sides or bottom.  

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Cheddar Ale Soup

(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

 Serves 6-8 bowls of soup

 6 slices of bacon

1 Tbsp butter

1 Vidalia onion — diced

2 carrots — peeled and diced

2 celery stalks — diced

3 cloves of garlic — minced

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup pale ale (any flavor you like)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

3 cups milk

3 cup chicken broth

1 pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese– shredded

 

In a frying pan, cook bacon until crisp.   

Remove bacon and drain on paper towel.

 

In a large stock pot add 2 pieces of the bacon and 2 Tbsp of the fat from the frying pan, cook on medium heat.  

Add and melt the butter.  

Add the onion, carrots and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. 

Add the ale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add the Worcestershire, milk and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup (in small batches) in a blender.  You can also you an immersion blender.


Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly; do not allow the soup to boil. 

Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed pretzel bowls. 

Garnish with leftover crumbled bacon.

 ENJOY!!!  I know you will!!!

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~gianna~

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