Hi everyone! It's Autumn here, from It's Always Autumn, where I share tips and tutorials on photography, crafting, sewing, and baking, as well as free printables. Last week I shared instructions to make cookie mix treat bags with 12 different printable toppers, and today I'm sharing five pages of printable gift tags perfect for adding to the tasty treats you'll be giving away this season.
I'm excited to be here at U-Create today to share one of my favorite holiday treats to make, eat, and gift: chocolate covered caramel pretzel bites….
You might think you already know all you need to about chocolate caramel pretzels. After all, pretzel rods dipped in white or chocolate almond bark are fairly common, as are the pretzels with the rolo and m&m pressed on top. But these chocolate covered caramel pretzel bites are in a league all their own. They're simple to make but taste absolutely decadent. They don't stick around long.
The main reason these chocolate caramel pretzel bites taste so much better than the other versions is that the proportions are perfect. First, using small pretzels instead of pretzel rods give you a much better salty outside to boring inside pretzel proportion. Sandwiching caramel inside two pretzels and dunking the entire thing in chocolate evenly distributes the caramel and chocolate so every bite is delicious. And finally, that chocolate dunk really maximizes the amount of chocolate on each and every bite, leaving you with a delicious, perfectly proportioned treat. (Plus they're little, which is always fun.)
And they package up perfectly! Look how pretty 5 of them are in a sweet little handmade box:
Want to make your own box?
Click here for a post with free printable templates for four different treat boxes you can construct out of paper or cardstock!
You can make about 36 of these treats in under 1/2 an hour, and they package up nicely at 5 or 6 to a box, meaning you'll end up with 6 tasty gifts, each one costing less than $1.50. Not bad!
Here's what you need:
Small pretzel twists (you'll use less than 1/3 of a bag
Caramels (again, you'll have lots left over)
1 bag (or 2 cups) MILK Chocolate chips
Let's talk chocolate before we get started. Most candy recipes like this call for almond bark because it melts beautifully and dries shiny and pretty. The only problem is that it's not actually chocolate - it's more like flavored shortening - and although it kind of sorta tastes like chocolate, there's just no substitute for the real deal. The very best taste will come from dipping chocolate (or even the chocolate chips made by Guittard, which produces dipping chocolate). The only problem is dipping chocolate's a little temperamental and unless it's kept at the perfect temperature at all time it often dries with grey streaks, which doesn't change the flavor but certainly doesn't look very good.
So I compromise a bit and use Hershey's milk chocolate chips. The flavor is still very good (way better than almond bark) AND the chips dry without grey streaks. You have to be careful not to heat chocolate chips too fast or they will sieze up and go crumbly, and even once melted it will be a little thicker than almond bark would, but those are easy things to deal with (and who doesn't mind a little thicker layer of chocolate?).
Now that we have that out of the way, here's what you do:
Place wax paper on a large cookie sheet and lay out 36 pretzels. Unwrap 18 caramels and cut each one in half. Top each pretzel with a caramel half and place in a 250 degree oven for 5 minutes or so, until caramel is soft to the touch. Remove from oven and top each pretzel with another pretzel, GENTLY squeezing in the middle of each pretzel to sandwich the caramel. If you break a pretzel, don't worry, just grab a new one and be a little more gentle. Melt your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until just melted. (I keep a handful of chips out while I melt the rest, then stir them in at the end - this helps ensure the chocolate won't go grey when it dries).
Grab a pretzel sandwich and dunk it completely in the chocolate, then hold it between two fingers and shake to remove excess chocolate. Place on another cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Use your finger to gently swirl the chocolate on top of the pretzel bite to make sure it looks pretty and no pretzel is peeking through. Repeat with remaining pretzels and allow to set up completely at room temperature.
If you'd like, melt some white chips and tint green with a little food coloring. Put the melted chocolate in a ziplock bag and snip a tiny piece off one corner, then pipe the white chocolate out in a Christmas tree design (white snowflakes would look really cute as well).
Let everything dry, then package them up and give away to six of your favorite people! Luckily for me, my six favorite people all live with me, so we didn't actually give any away - we just ate the entire batch. I guess I'll be forced to make some more...
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