"Valentine Day Recipes Just For You"

Chocolate Covered Pretzels Recipe

12 oz. good-quality milk, dark, OR white chocolate, very finely chopped
2 T. solid vegetable shortening or cocoa butter
6 to 8 oz. small, salted pretzels

For Garnish: Small amount grated or shaved chocolate (in contrasting color from the color of the chocolate in which you dip the pretzels) OR chocolate sprinkles.

Line several baking sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up.

In a medium heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolate and shortening. Set over hot water on low heat. Stir or whisk frequently until melted and smooth. (Milk and white chocolates, even those of good quality, are often stubborn about melting. If yours won't melt smoothly, turn it into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (be careful not to get any water into the chocolate!). Process just until smooth.) Carefully turn melted chocolate into a small bowl. If necessary, cool, stirring often, until just slightly warm.

Place one pretzel on top of the melted chocolate. With a three- or four-tined fork, gently push the pretzel just under the surface of the chocolate to cover it completely. Pick up the pretzel so that it lies flat on the fork tines. Using short up-and-down motions, gently "shake" off excess chocolate from the pretzel. Carefully place the dipped pretzel on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Continue dipping, placing the dipped pretzels close together on the foil-lined sheet. Excess chocolate may form small "pools" where a pretzel touches the sheet, but these should be minimal in size. After dipping every 5 or 6 pretzels, sprinkle the ones you've just dipped with a small pinch of the grated or shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles. Keep the decorations dainty and spare, and sprinkle around the top of the dipped pretzels, not all in one place. When one sheet has been filled up, place it into the refrigerator just until the chocolate covering on the pretzels has hardened; this shouldn't take more than 10 to 20 minutes. Test by peeling several pretzels from the sheet, using a tissue or sheet of paper towel to protect the chocolate covering on the pretzels from your fingers. The chocolate covering should look dull and dry, not shiny and wet, and you should be able to peel the pretzels easily from the foil-lined sheet. When chocolate covering has set, remove pretzels from refrigerator. Gently peel from foil-lined baking sheet; store in airtight container.

Note: As you're dipping, the chocolate may cool and thicken too much to enable you to dip the pretzels easily. If so, reheat gently over hot water on low heat (water should not touch the bottom of chocolate bowl), stirring often, just until slightly warm. It might also be helpful to transfer the melted chocolate mixture into progressively smaller bowls as you dip. Don't try to use up the last bit of melted chocolate; the dipped pretzels won't look as smooth (this is a good place to use the smaller pieces and crumbs for a "cook's treat").

Store the dipped pretzels airtight, at cool room temperature.


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