I made these for Jed the other day:) (He's on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Albania.) Every summer on the last day before school starts our family heads out on an adventure. We call it our "Last Day of Freedom!" We make a specific playlist for our iPods, we usually eat breakfast at the Oaks in Ogden Canyon, and then we have the best day doing something just a little special. For many years we'd head over the dirt road to Park City. We'd ride the Alpine Slide, and Sky Coaster, but I think the kids favorite part was stopping at the Rocky Mtn. Chocolate Factory on our way to the car. Everyone could pick something they wanted, and Jed ALWAYS picked these pretzel rods. Someone would pick a giant rice krispy treat, or a caramel apple to share. James always picks an enormous Turtle or two. You know, one needs to be hidden in your underwear drawer so you can nibble on it over the next few days. But seriously, Jed picks these pretzel rods every single time.
As I was trying to decide what to mail him for his Christmas in Albania, this treat was top on my list. And I figure if it ends up in pieces, they will still be delicious pieces. So the other night the kids got dip happy, and helped and decorated these little lovelies. I'm posting the recipe I used, but let me just give this disclaimer. Candy making can be a little finicky. Even after making this caramel a million times, I still make batches that can't be saved. Into the garbage they go. Just a few weeks ago this happened. The temps. listed are for my house. I live at about 4800 ft. above sea level. The perfect softball stage for me happens at 235'F. Yours will be different. So if you don't want to try the homemade caramel, then by all means go the Kraft Caramel route. I will not think any less of you. It's so easy that way, and it will still taste amazing! Also I didn't use REAL chocolate to make these. I didn't want to deal with tempering, or chocolate blooming so I just bought the cheap chocolate dipping stuff. Microwave and it's done. So good luck what ever route you go!!
Caramel Dipped Pretzel Rods
So this recipe is actually my mom's Licorice Caramel recipe minus the black food coloring, and anise flavoring.
1 c. butter (Yep 2 whole sticks)
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/4 t. salt
2 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
Slowly melt butter in heavy, large pan. Use fork to swirl butter up sides of the pant to prevent sugar crystals. When melted, add the rest of the ingredients, except flavoring. Turn heat to medium high, cook and stir constantly with a flat bottom wooden spoon. (Don't cook on high and stir constantly. It burns quickly and easily. I usually scorch the bottom of the pan and there will be dark brown chunks floating everywhere. As long as they're not black chunks, you should be ok.) Cook to softball stage. For me that is 235' F. I live at 4800 ft. above sea level. Check your thermometer and altitude and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan for square caramels, or dip large pretzel rods into caramel. Once you dip the pretzels place the rod on a wax paper lined cookie sheet of counter top. If you don't have wax paper you can grease a cookie sheet or the counter top. If you don't spray, your caramel will stick and you will cry. Let set for a few hours or overnight in a cool place. Melt some chocolate. Any kind. White, dark, or milk chocolate. You can use the dipping fake chocolate, or the real stuff. Whatever works. Dip each caramel dipped rod into chocolate and sprinkle cute sprinkles on them. Place back on wax paper until chocolate is set.
*another suggestion for the caramel is just a bag of Kraft Caramel squares. Melt these and dip you pretzels. It will turn out just as spectacular.
This recipe is time consuming, but so worth it once it's done:)