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Chocolate Pretzel Success

A while back, Deb of Smitten Kitchen fame blogged about the shortcomings of Martha Stewart’s chocolate pretzel cookie recipe. “Dry, bland, and not chocolatey enough” and more colorful adjectives described a cocopretzel that just didn’t cut it. She suggested trying to make pretzels out of Dorie Greenspan’s very flavorful and buttery chocolate rollout cookies, which I had been planning to make later that day. I figured what the hell? Chocolate pretzels they would be.

Needless to say, nothing is ever that easy. Dorie’s chocolate rollout cookies are awesome cookies, but they make lousy pretzels. In the oven, they flatten out and spread a bit, losing their pretzel shape, and once cooled, they’ve got the texture of great cookies, not crunchy, crispy pretzels. Pretzels: 1. Rivka: 0.

With disappointment under my belt, I decided to give chocolate pretzels a second chance — but not without a great deal of research. I googled several different phrasings of “chocolate pretzel cookie” and found total rubbish — not even one decent recipe came up. I checked all my cookbooks with no luck. Left only to my own devices, I decided to develop a chocolate pretzel recipe.

My strategy was pretty simple (um, amateur?). I wrote out the ratio of butter:flour:cocoa:sugar:eggs in each recipe, noted the addition of baking powder and chocolate to Dorie’s recipe and water and espresso to Martha’s, and did my best to create a compromise between the two recipes that maintained the pretzely texture without sacrificing (much of) the flavor. And friends, you’ll be thrilled to know that I succeeded! Yep, this super amateur method actually, to my total shock, worked!

Rivka’s chocolate pretzel recipe (that’s right, it’s named after me!) yielded a chocolate pretzel that kept its round shape and its relatively toothsome crumb, but also packed a chocolatey punch from lots of cocoa and even a bit of chocolate. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve developed a recipe from scratch — so pat me on the back, will ya? And then run home and make these. They’ll surely spread some holiday cheer (and maybe some chocolate onto your face, too).

Rivka’s CocoPretzels
makes 18 pretzels

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 or 2 oz. good quality chocolate (I used ghiradelli chips, and 1 oz is about 30 chips; the second time around, I used 2 oz and they were even better!)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • (1 egg yolk, for brushing)
  1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, whip butter until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add sugars and whip until incorporated, 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate over double boiler.
  4. Add egg, vanilla and salt; mix until combined, about 20 seconds.
  5. Add chocolate; mix until combined, about 30 seconds, on low speed.
  6. Add cocoa, flour, and baking powder. Mix on low speed until completely blended, about two minutes or less.
  7. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or freeze for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove dough from fridge/freezer. Break off 1 1/2 Tbsp.-size chunks. (Alternatively, do as I did and slice the dough into relatively equal portions from the start.
  9. roll into 10-inch logs, about 1/3-1/2 an inch thick.
    DO NOT do as I did and roll them all out before shaping, because they’ll get stiff and crack when you try to shape them. Shape as you go!
  10. Take the edges in your hand, bring them together, and twist them twice, leaving the tips dangling.
  11. Bring the twist down onto the rounded pretzel, stick the tips to the pretzel, and transfer to a non-stick or lined baking sheet.
  12. Brush with a very light coat of egg yolk mixed with water and sprinkle with rock sugar if you desire.
  13. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, until they’ve just begun to harden.
  14. Move delicately from baking sheet onto cooling rack, and allow to cool completely before serving. (Don’t let that stop you from trying one…or two.)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Deb December 29, 2007,

    Yay! These look PERFECT. I’ve been waiting for this entry since I saw your comment on Serious Eats that my Dorie roll out recipe idea hadn’t worked (I was so sad). This is great! I am going to update my pretzel entry with a link to your success, so people can try this one instead. I’m so glad you kept at it.

  • elizabethm42 December 29, 2007,

    When do you add the melted chocolate? And “2 cups flour” is listed twice, I’m assuming it is just 2 cups??

  • slowlikehoney December 29, 2007,

    finally a successful pretzel recipe! I’ve been waiting. once I attempt these, I will post a link up to yours

  • Cindy. Lo. December 29, 2007,

    Looking good!

  • chiffOnade December 30, 2007,

    Your choco pretzels look good, but I don’t think I’ll make them for my new bofriend “THE MANAGER”.

    When I made him a fake crab (spelled with a K) casserole for christmas dinner, he threw it out the window and punched a hole in the wall of my trailer house.

    Those 400-plus-pound florida good-ole-boys don’t like anything new.

    He will only eat ROLD GOLD pretzels with his Bud (he has to soak the pretzels to soften them – no teeth you understand).

    But the pretzels looked really good. When my daughter gets out and I move back to Brooklyn, I am going to try them.

  • Rivka December 30, 2007,

    elizabeth — sorry for the double-listing of the flour! I’ve corrected it. And you add the chocolate after the eggs/vanilla step — I’ve added that in, too. Thanks for being my ad hoc editor! 🙂 And thanks to all of you for reading!

  • Special Em December 30, 2007,

    I tried to make these…

    The dough *tasted* like it was going to make an awesome pretzel, but alas, I’ll never know: the dough would do nothing but disintegrate into my hands. I couldn’t get it to form a ball, much less a pretzel. Hard to work with. Maybe less flour would help…

  • jerry December 31, 2007,

    I used to make these. The flavour of the cookie was great. The amount of work it took to pull them together and get them into the oven – not great at all. Yours turned out well.

  • Robin December 31, 2007,

    These look so fun! They came out great. I’ll have to give them a try one day.

  • Rivka January 2, 2008,

    special em, surprised that the dough was so hard to work with! I refrigerated it for a couple hours, and when I took it out, it was actually not too hard to roll and shape…like i said in the recipe, it’s best to roll and shape immediately so that they crack less. i bet if you put a couple Tbsp. of water, the dough would stick together more easily. sorry it was tough!

  • Hillary January 3, 2008,

    Great job Rivka – yours turned out beautifully! And thanks for the step by step on how to make the pretzel shape, it’s really helpful!

  • Anonymous January 4, 2008,

    This looks like a great recipe and I am going to give it a try

  • Samantha January 15, 2008,

    I was so excited to make these but when we took the dough out of the freezer to form the pretzels, they would not stay together. The dough tasted great so we went ahead and made ‘rods’ instead.

  • rivka January 16, 2008,

    Lots of people seem to be having trouble with the shaping….my best suggestion would be to leave the dough out for a little longer, so that it softens. But they certainly are delicious…as rods or pretzels!

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