Eat: Pink-Salted Soft Pretzel Hearts

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Not-so-secret secret: I am a carb-aholic. The weather has been damp and dreary lately, and these gray January days make me feel like folding myself into a huge dough ball and eating my way out. I had run across this delicious-looking recipe, and thought I’d give the whole pretzel-making thing a try. O.M.G. – so, so scrumptious. This is my idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day treat (bread over chocolate for me any day) so here is my own “twist” on the recipe [giggles at pretzel punning]. Kids will have a ball helping to twist the taffy-like dough and, for maximum enjoyment, turn up the tunes and shake your salt bags to the beat.

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Pretzel Recipe
Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 4 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2  cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 TBSP cold water
  • Rock Pretzel Salt
  • Red Food Coloring
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

Proof the yeast in a small bowl by adding the yeast, 1 1/2 cups water and brown sugar together.  Cover with a towel and let stand for 5-10 minutes until bubbles or a foam form.

Add 3 TBSP of  the oil and the 2 tsp. of salt.  Begin adding in the flour a cup at a time while mixing, and continue until its all been combined. Knead the dough until the dough its smooth and pulls away from the sides. Remove the dough from the bowl and pour the remaining 1 TBSP oil in.  Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl,  turning it to give it a nice thin coating of oil (this will prevent it from sticking to anything).  Cover with a towel and place in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about an hour).

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, add the baking soda, and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, throw some rock salt in a bag with a drop or two of red food dye. Give it some good shakes, and continue to add drops of color until your salt has reached the desired color. For this beautiful mixture of pinks and reds, I used about 4 TBSP. of salt and 2 drops of color – all in the same bag.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  Twirl and pull both ends of a piece, until you have a long rope, then shape into a heart, and pinch or roll the ends together toward the middle. Repeat with remaining pieces.  Boil each pretzel in the water solution for 45 seconds.  Drain with a slotted spoon and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet (just a note: even on the parchment, mine stuck to the paper a little, so either drain the excess liquid off well, or throw a tiny bit of rock salt on the paper before you put the pretzels on to bake).

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Once they have all been boiled and drained, beat the egg with 1 TBSP of cold water and brush over the tops.  Generously sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and immediately brush with the melted butter.

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Obvi, these are SO GOOD 20 minutes after cooling – almost right out of the oven – but honestly, 3 days later, they still taste just as wonderful and retain their chewy soft texture. We totally recommend showing your love with salty soft pretzels this year!

If we’ve inspired you to jump on the carb bandwagon, be sure to tag @barleyandbirch / #barleyandbirch in your pretzel-making pics – the making is REALLY half the fun and we’d love to see how yours turn out. For more kid-friendly cooking ideas, check out our  In the Kitchen board over on Pinterest!

pink-salted soft pretzels via barley & birch
pink-salted soft pretzels via barley & birch
The perfect Valentine's Day treat - pink-salted soft pretzels!