Saturday, December 8, 2007

chocolate pretzel cookies

pretzel cookies

It’s not exactly news that I have a soft spot for pretzels. I’ve made pretzels into rolls, soft pretzels for a Superbowl Party and once, in the words of Alex, intentionally ruined dinner so we’d have no choice but go to the neighborhood restaurant with some curious egg noodle dish with crushed pretzels on top.

I see pretzel cookies all of the time, but they’re usually just cut from pretzel-shaped cookie cutter, and not actually twisty and knotted, which I consider totally unacceptable. It’s like one of those things I saw Sandra Lee use the other day which cut her pie lid into the shape of a lattice, without actually weaving it. Meh, I say. That would totally ruin half my fun.

rolling pretzel cookies

However, I’m also an obsessive comber of recipe reviews when they are available online, a favor sites that embrace them. It is rarely enough for me to know that a recipe should be good, or is from a well-respected chef, I need to see some people to write in and say “awesome as is!1!!” or “wouldn’t change a thing!” Bonus points for a “this impressed my mother-in-law who thinks I am a terrible cook!”

pretzel cookies

And this is why it just goes to show how stubborn I am that insisted upon forging ahead with this recipe despite more than one comment that it was dry, bland and not chocolatey enough. “I am Super Deb! I can fix this!”

The first thing I did was double the cocoa, swapping the same amount of flour out for it in hopes to fix the “chocolatey” issue. But when the first batch came out of the oven, they were terrible–dry, bland and borderline ready for the trash can. And then it hit me: 35 minutes of baking time? For a butter cookie? I don’t think I have ever seen one that bakes for more than 15 minutes. The second batch went in for 15 and lo and behold–they were no longer dry and inedible!

pretzel cookies

But you know what? They’re still on the bland side, and I’m not entirely sure why. Likely, they being unfairly compared to the ne plus ultra, incomparably delicious World Peace Cookies, which I have also made a batch of this week. Maybe it’s the absence of brown sugar or a light, sandy texture that leaves them lacking; at the very least, they’d benefit from more sugar.

I’d seriously consider making them with Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Roll-Out Cookie dough next time, but having not actually auditioned this recipe in pretzel form, I can’t make any promises that it will work flawlessly. Thus, I have listed the Martha Stewart recipe below, with my best stabs at what would fix up the flavor. Good luck!

One year ago: Pecan Squares, ohmygaah

Update! Awesome Rivka at Not Derby Pie has triumphed, coming up with a new and improved chocolate pretzel cookie recipe thatI am certain will be the one you want to bookmark. After trying the cookies with my suggestion of a chocolate roll-out cookie recipe, she found that while they were tasty, the pretzel shape fell apart in the oven. She tweaked and tweaked until she got it right and her new version sounds delicious and looks perfect. Check it out.

Chocolate Pretzels

As I mentioned in the post, I was not overwhelmed with the flavor of these cookies and have made some tweaks that I hope will improve them. However, if you have a chocolate roll-out cookie recipe that never fails you, it might be worth trying that instead, with the same egg glaze and rolling technique. [Update: See note above for a recipe suggestion.]

1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Stir espresso powder into the boiling water in a small bowl until dissolved; set aside. Meanwhile, put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy. Mix in vanilla and salt. Reduce speed to medium-low. Mix in egg, cocoa and dissolved espresso. Gradually add flour, and mix until a smooth dough forms. Turn out onto a piece of plastic; pat into a square. Wrap dough, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.

2. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll into balls. Shape balls into 12-inch-long ropes. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until dry, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.


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