Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Fruit, etc.

Chocolate Coated Pretzel and Dried Apricot

Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Fruit, etc.
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Candy, Gift
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: Varies by size and type of dippers
 
During the holiday season, a favorite gift is chocolate coated pretzels, dried fruit, maraschino cherries or fresh fruit such as strawberries. The trick to making chocolate covered anything is to temper the chocolate. Once you have tempered the chocolate, you can dip whatever tasty treats you care to dip and place them on trays to cool completely and solidify. Properly tempered chocolate sets up easily into a glossy coating for your treats. While the process seemed scary to me for many years, it is a simple matter of controlling the temperature of the chocolate and mixing in unmelted chocolate to provide the seeds of the crystalline structure required for the glossy coat and snap of tempered chocolate.
Ingredients
  • Approximately 1 pound block or bar of good quality eating chocolate (Do not use chips as they don’t seem to temper the same way.)
  • Goodies to dip
Instructions
  1. To temper the chocolate use a serrated knife to make cuts that shave thin slices off the corners of the bar or block. Turn the block to get fairly small surfaces to cut and continue until the entire bar is cut up into small pieces.
  2. Put half the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or in a double boiler. If you are using a double boiler, do not allow boiling water to touch the bottom of the upper pot or get into the chocolate, which will make the chocolate seize up into a hard mass that cannot be tempered and will have to be used in a recipe that calls for a lot of liquid. If you are using the microwave oven, cook on high power for 30-60 seconds and stir to equalize the temperature throughout the chocolate. Cook for another 30-60 seconds and stir again until all of the chocolate is melted and the temperature reaches 105-115 degrees F. If you need to, cook again in 10 second increments, stirring after each increment until you get a uniform temperature and all the chocolate is melted. If you are using a double boiler, stir over hot water just until the chocolate is all melted and reaches temperature. Remove from the heat. If you overshoot on the temperature, stir and let the chocolate cool at room temperature until it reaches 115 degrees F or less.
  3. Add the remaining half of the chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is uniformly melted and the temperature reaches 88 degrees F. At this point the chocolate is tempered and can be used for dipping.
  4. When I dip pretzels, I use the hook end of a large unbent paper clip to hold the pretzel. I dip it into the chocolate and drag it on a non-stick silicone sheet lined pan to remove excess chocolate and then place it on a clean non-stick silicone sheet or parchment paper to set. At this point you can garnish with sprinkles, colored or plain sugar crystals, or other decorations. You need to garnish before the chocolate sets, so work quickly. Fresh fruit such as strawberries can be held by their hulls and things like dried apricots can be held with tongs or fingers and dipped only half-way. When you dip things like fresh fruit or maraschino cherries, make sure that you have dried the surface before attempting to dip so that the chocolate will adhere.
  5. Leftover tempered chocolate and the drips you have on your “excess” pan can be gently reheated to 88 degrees if they get too solid to work with.

Talley’s Trail Mix


Talley's Trail Mix
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Gift
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 5 cups
 
Besides being delicious as a snack and providing energy for athletic endeavors with a healthful amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fiber, this trail mix makes a nice gift when packaged in a pretty airtight can, jar, or gift bag. The flavors can be adjusted to your tastes by changing the ingredients or the amounts of specific ingredients. This version was always a big hit at fund raisers, sold in holiday gift bags tied with colorful yarn or raffia. Thanks go to Talley for sharing her recipe. I use the Pumpkin Pie Spice to make the preparation easier instead of the list of spices she recommended.
Ingredients
  • All quantities are approximate.)
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnut pieces or halves (or pecans or combination)
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
  • 1/3 cup tamari pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup golden raisins (or whatever you have)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon plus 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of each of the following: nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger (go easier on the stronger flavors) OR 1 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice*
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. In a large bowl or gallon zip-top plastic bag, mix all the ingredients together except for the egg white, salt and water.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white and water with an electric mixer until frothy.
  3. Fold the frothy egg white into the nut-fruit mixture gently to avoid breaking up the nut pieces.
  4. Line a 9”x13” baking pan with parchment paper, aluminum foil or a silicone liner, such as Silpat. (The mixture will be very sticky as it bakes.) Spread the fruit and nut mixture into the pan in an even layer, avoiding the pan sides unless you are using a non-stick pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in the pan on a rack. When cooled, break the trail mix apart into pieces. Store the trail mix in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Notes
*You can use the individual spices or save some time (and possibly some money) by replacing the spices with ~1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.