Start to finish: 1 hour Servings: 60 pretzel rods Difficulty Level: Beginner
Chocolate-covered pretzel rods pair sweet and salty flavors and offer a range of decoration options to fit any holiday or special occasion. While chocolate is often melted over a double boiler, these sweets are much easier to make in the microwave -- you can remelt the chocolate repeatedly until each pretzel rod is covered. And you can select milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or colored candy melting chocolate.
- 12 ounces of chocolate or chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoon of vegetable shortening
- 50 pretzel rods
- Assorted toppings and decorations
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Skip this step when using chocolate chips.
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Add the chocolate and vegetable shortening to a microwave-safe container. A glass measuring cup works well for this rather than a wide, shallow bowl because the chocolate is deeper in the measuring cup, making it easier to dip the pretzels.
Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds at the "LOW" setting or 50-percent power.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the chocolate. Continue microwaving in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until the chocolate becomes perfectly smooth. It takes 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to microwave 12 ounces of chocolate, but this varies with different microwaves.
Tilt the measuring cup slightly, making the pool of chocolate as deep as possible.
Dip a pretzel rod into the melted chocolate mixture, covering no more than two-thirds of the pretzel.
Lift the pretzel out of the chocolate, suspending it for a few seconds to allow excess chocolate to drip back into the cup.
Hold the pretzel rod over a bowl or plate containing your choice of topping. Spin the rod slowly while sprinkling with the topping. This step is optional. Topping such as sprinkles and chopped nuts should be added while the chocolate is still melted.
Lay the chocolate-covered pretzel rod flat on a piece of wax paper. Allow about 30 minutes for the chocolate to set before packaging. Store in air-tight containers or cellophane treat bags.
Use the "DEFROST" setting if your microwave power is not adjustable. Work in 30-second bursts, stirring in between.
The chocolate in the cup will harden before you dip all the pretzels. Return the cup to the microwave for 10-second bursts to melt it back to dipping consistency.
Leave at least one-third of each pretzel without chocolate so you can use the exposed pretzel as a handle, making the chocolate-covered pretzels much easier to handle, package and eat.
Another option for decorating is to drizzle a different color chocolate over the pretzels. After dipping, immediately set the pretzel rods on wax paper. Drizzle the colored chocolate from a spoon in a zigzag motion. For example, decorate milk chocolate or dark chocolate with white chocolate drizzle.
Decorate chocolate-covered pretzel rods for holidays with different colored sprinkles. Use pastel sprinkles for Easter, red and green sprinkles for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween, or red, white and blue sprinkles for Independence Day.
Work with 100-percent vegetable shortening to make the chocolate smooth. Never use butter or margarine, because these contain water that can cause the chocolate to seize.
Take care to avoid scorching when melting the chocolate. When it is nearly completely melted, it may be best to reduce to 10-second intervals to avoid overheating. Stir before adding more time to the microwave -- a few lumps that remain usually smooth out when stirred.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.