Valentine's Day is all about falling in love and showing that love to those around you.
When I saw the recipe for a combination of chocolate chip cookies and soft pretzels on the Half Baked Harvest blog (www.halfbakedharvest.com) two weeks ago, I fell in love.
Since then, I've shared that love with family, friends and co-workers.
Chocolate Chip Cookie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels are monster-sized expressions of love in the cinnamon roll tradition. The combination of yeasted bread dough and sweet filling makes these treats irresistible. But better than cinnamon rolls, pretzels add the perfect salty aftertaste to cut the sugared wash of cookie dough flavor.
Putting these together can be a little messy unless you wield a spatula with masterful precision, so expect your fingers to be covered in cookie dough, warm water and salt by the time the pretzels hit the oven.
The recipe makes eight giant pretzels.
The amount of cookie dough needed depends on how stuffed you want your pretzels to be. Some dough will ooze out of the pretzel no matter what, so don't be afraid to use a heap of cookie dough if you want a sweeter final product. I prefer the salty side, so I ended up with enough cookie dough left for two dozen plain chocolate chip cookies after making the stuffed pretzels.
Chocolate Chip Cookie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten, for wash
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
To make the pretzel dough, combine the water, sugar, yeast and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and 4 1/2 cups flour to the mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
About 10 minutes before you're ready to roll out the pretzel dough, make the cookie dough.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs and beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Divide the pretzel dough into 8 equal balls and roll each out into a rectangle about 11 inches by 3 inches. Spread cookie dough in a line down the center of each piece. Flip the short ends over the cookie dough like you're making a burrito. Then wrap the long sides around the dough and pinch the seams to seal. Very gently roll the dough to form an even cylinder and fully enclose the filling. Chocolate chips might peek through, but try to avoid large tears in the dough.
Take the ends of each rope and form into a circle that is overlapped by a couple of inches of dough on either side. Twist the ends and lay over the opposite side to form a pretzel shape. Press the ends under the pretzel to seal.
Fill a small bowl with warm water and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Dunk each pretzel and place on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet (no more than four pretzels per sheet).
Brush the tops with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until pretzels are very lightly golden and the cookies that have oozed out are golden.
— Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.