Recipe: chocolate caramel pretzels
It has taken me a little while to get dialed into Crested Butte since we aren’t here full-time, but it’s happening. The hardest part is reading the skies because the valley is surrounded on three sides by towering mountains. Local orographics make for weather that changes quickly without much warning, unlike our home on the Front Range with unencumbered views reaching from the Continental Divide to the Great Plains. But I’m always observing skyward and the other day as we were finishing our nordic ski, I looked back at Paradise Divide as its mantle of snow began to take on a warm glow. The one day I decided to leave my camera at home…
I skied with a fast and regular stride – kick and glide, kick and glide – arms pumping. I don’t like to rush Jeremy when he’s enjoying his workout, but I tried to hurry him along. At the car, I quickly changed out of my boots and chucked the skis and poles into the back. Sometimes Jeremy will dawdle about with his gear, but thankfully it was too cold for that. As we drove back to our neighborhood I kept looking in the side mirror and commenting on the spectacular colors behind us. Jeremy agreed that it was lovely, but didn’t realize my intention to capture sunset. He asked if he should stop to check the mail and I said, “No! Just pull over on the side of the road – this isn’t going to last another minute!” They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and it’s true.
the glorious sunset from our neighborhood (iphone pano)
In other news, Kaweah is improving daily. I won’t gross you out with photos of her infected toenail, but I’m actually looking forward to when it falls off so she can move about more freely. She’s definitely feeling spunky and getting around like nothing is wrong. For now, the child’s sock remains on the infected paw to keep her from licking it. When I asked the thrift store proprietor if she had children’s socks, she asked how old my child was. “Well, it’s for my dog who has a toe infection.” She smiled and said in a musical voice, “Oh, it’s for your other
child! Yes, doggies are our children too.”
my eternal toddler coming in from the snow
So today’s recipe is something that I didn’t think would be very good at all the first time I tried it. This past summer I had two chocolate caramel pretzels from a client shoot sitting on my desk for several days until one afternoon I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and broke into one. Then I ate the second one. They were that good. The salty, creamy, chewy, sweet, crunchy, chocolatey was such an unexpectedly delicious combination. Before the holidays, I tried making some to give as gifts. There are two ways to do it – both with good results.
from scratch: pretzel rods, cream, sugar, vanilla bean, water, corn syrup, salt, butter, chocolate
The easiest way is to purchase a bag of caramels (gourmet or store-bought brand name) and melt them in a pan with a little cream. But I decided to make my own caramel since I was out of practice. I let my sugar syrup reach the top of the temperature range (250°F to 320°F), which resulted in a gorgeous but completely hard caramel. I recommend targeting the lower bound or at least the middle of the range so you don’t break your (or other people’s) teeth. Still, I managed to save the caramel by stirring in some cream over a low flame. That yielded a softer, chewier caramel to coat the pretzels.
scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod
heat butter, cream, salt, and vanilla pod and seeds together
combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in another pan
**Jump for more butter**