Auntie Annie’s/Wetzels Pretzels – Sweet or Salty

19 July 2010 § 2 Comments

My camera sucks, basically.

I love Wetzel Pretzels. The Sinful Cinnamon ones and the salted ones and even the unsalted ones. But I love mostly the Almond Crunch pretzels. SO good.

Though what I have is not a Wetzel Pretzel recipe, but an Auntie Annie’s one.  I reckon I’ve tried an Auntie Annie’s pretzel once before, only don’t remember the actual taste. It could be because it wasn’t a great pretzel and the taste simply wasn’t memorable, or more likely, I just can’t recall it. I’m sure it ranks up there with Wetzel Prezels.

As I was in a rush and possibly even in a bad mood, I didn’t take as much care in baking these pretzels. I’ve made them several times before and I distinctly remember vey much enjoying them (several years ago), but now I wasn’t as tempted to eat the entire batch. Perhaps it was because they didn’t have the ideal Almond Crunch topping that I now prefer. Nevertheless, they tasted great and they would have tasted even better if I stretched the pretzels out to the proper length and mayhaps gave more atention to baking them.

Recipe from Top Secret Recipes:

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
by Todd Wilbur
The first Auntie Anne’s pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country — a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers’ market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne’s is one of the most requested secret clone recipes on the Internet. Many of the recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But, by analyzing the Auntie Anne’s home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory we can determine a better solution for recreating the delicious mall treats than any other recipe out there. For the best quality dough, all-purpose flour is what you need. And powdered sugar can be used to perfectly sweeten the stuff. Take your pick from salted pretzels, or the cinnamon/sugar coated kind, and crank the oven up real hot.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon yeast
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I wonder if it would taste better if one used sweet butter instead of oil?)

Bath –
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup baking soda

Cinnamon Topping –
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Salt Topping –
1/4 cup butter, melted
kosher or pretzel salt

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl or cup. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add water with yeast and vegetable oil. Stir with a spoon and then use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Dough will be nice and smooth when it’s ready. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and, and store it in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
  3. When dough has risen, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Make a bath for the pretzels by combining the baking soda with the warm water and stir until baking soda is mostly dissolved.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 8 even portions. Roll each portion on a flat non-floured surface until it is about 3 feet long. Pick up both ends of the dough and give it a little spin so the middle of the dough spins around once. Lay the dough down with the loop nearest to you. Fold the ends down toward you and pinch to attach them to the bottom of the loop. The twist should be in the middle.
  6. Holding the pinched ends, dip each pretzel into the bath solution. Put each pretzel on a paper towel for a moment to blot the excess liquid. Arrange the pretzels on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. If you want salt, sprinkle pretzels with kosher or pretzel salt. Don’t salt any pretzels you plan to coat with cinnamon/sugar. You will likely have to use two baking sheets, and be sure to bake them separately. Bake the pretzels for 4 minutes, then spin the pan halfway around and bake for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.
  7. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and let them cool for a couple minutes. If you want to eat some now, brush them with melted butter first, if desired, before serving. If you want the cinnamon/sugar coating make it by combining the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the unsalted pretzels you plan to coat with a generous amount of melted butter. Sprinkle a heavy coating of the cinnamon/sugar onto the entire surface of the pretzels over a plate. Munch out. (TopSecretRecipes.com)

Yields 8 Pretzels

I’ve stumbled across a almond crunch topping that I’ve not tried yet but it seems respectable, especially with the addition of honey. I’ll use it the next time I make pretzels, unless I find something better:

Almond Crunch Topping:

1/2 lb Butter
2 Tbsp Honey
White sugar
Brown sugar
1/2 c chopped almonds

While still hot, brush with melted butter and honey. Sprinkle with white and brown
sugar (approx. half and half mixture)and chopped almonds.

*But now that I look at it, I’d probably put the almonds through a food processor until the desired size, then pix them with the sugars and honey (and probably some butter for the taste and to make them slightly less sticky, and considering taste, I’d also add a pinch of salt) and roast them slightly in the oven. I assume the sugars are going to melt and form a solid form, which would harden, so I’d put it back in the processor once it’s cooled.
Well, maybe honey isn’t the best idea as it would make it more sticky than necessary. So, what I would do is simply combine the sugars, butter, salt, and ground almonds – then roast them in the oven until golden brown, or until it looks similar to what the almond topping ought to look like.

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Brownies. Tricky?

10 July 2010 § Leave a comment

What exactly is success when you aren’t entirely thrilled? Nothing but indifference. Finally, finally I baked a brownie. Sounds easy to most, no doubt, except for the fact that there’s an uncertain hiccup in my baking performance concerning brownies. At first I thought it was simply the fact that I could not bake with cocoa powder, I could fix that. Real chocolate tastes better anyway. True as that was, it didn’t deliverer. Perhaps it was the recipe? I can find a better one. Nope, strike two. You see the thing is, I was looking at the situation at a wrong angle. I figured it out, the problem was me. I just couldn’t bake a brownie; the talent simply wasn’t in me. For several years I tried my hand at recipe after recipe (it only took years as I quit experimenting after so many failures, one only can stand a certain amount of disappointment) and as it was, they would turn out lumpy, bland, dry, dense, flour-tasting, and not-at-all-brownie-like. I would often resort to the box mix kind, until one horrible afternoon when even that failed. How? A most baffling mystery. I was given a bit of grief for that, and for good reason. I was jinxed. Just yesterday I produced a thick and dry brownie which tasted just wrong and felt like an uncomfortable burden in your stomach after you ate it, which is saying something as I only tried a crumb. It didn’t look good to eat, so I had another unsuspecting taster take a bite at it and sure enough, it was misery in the form of a brownie. I suppose it is partially my fault as I didn’t follow the recipe exactly…but when I did do exactly as the recipe instructed for the other failure brownie recipes, they all turned out bad anyways. I just then applied my long dwelled upon law: if the batter tastes lousy, then so shall the baked batter. And that batter tasted lacking in chocolate. I did what one would do in such a situation, I loaded the batter up with two variations of cocoa powder and more melted chocolate, only later deciding it was far too dry and adding two more eggs, a splash of vegetable oil (not that it was part of the recipe but simply because the box mixes used it) and a touch of vanilla. Also a bit more of baking powder, as I assumed it would need more. All added in the wrong order, the brownie was bound to turn out wrong in every way possible. I tossed them out the next morning (today). Surely, I was destined to a life without my own homemade brownies. Whether it be because I was feeling bold or simply just bored, I found another brownie recipe and gave it a go. The day after I baked the last brownie. It would be my last attempt before letting the brownie baking end for several more months. I realized something as it baked in the oven, I could smell it baking. I couldn’t smell the ones I baked yesterday, as it was pointed out to me. Could anyone be more surprised when it actually tasted like an average brownie? A simple, moist, chewy (on the edges), thick and deeply chocolaty, ordinary brownie. It looked like a brownie, and tasted like one too. I was thrilled, for a time. Now I only feel ill, perhaps because I ate one bite too many. I can’t even look at another brownie, I might puke. Success, but only just.

I’ll post both brownie recipes later. It’s 5:07am and I want to try once more at going to bed. My stomach won’t let me sleep as I must. I’m sure the first is just as great, only my own instincts aren’t to be trusted although I tend to listen to them blindly anyhow. They look fantastic in the picture of how they were meant to turn out as. The second recipe is the one I shall keep, my only acknowledgeable brownie recipe.

The first brownie recipe ought to look like this, bearing in mind that I did NOT bake it:

(Photo belonging to: everylastcookie.blogspot.com )

But as I did not follow the recipe, mines turned out horribly and as I don’t have them anymore, I can’t take a picture of them, thus I will instead say: I can’t bear to post my own photo next to this brownie as mines is just pathethic and sad. Which is why they’re in the garbage bin. This ideal brownie does the recipe more justice than my own. Anyways, who whouldn’t want to try this recipe after seeing a picture like this?

Double Chocolate Brownies (Martha Stweart):

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces coarsely chopped good-quality semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.
  2. Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool slightly.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.
  4. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Why is it that I always took the notion that recipes printed on the back of packaged goods would not in fact be any good? Wasn’t I wrong there.

King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan
  2.  In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then  add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  3. While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
  4. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
  5. Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
  6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
  7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving. 

Yeilds two dozen brownies.

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