These whimsical caramel-dipped pretzel sticks are the perfect combination of salty, sweet, chewy, and crunchy.
LC Sweet Meets Salty Note
Sweet, meet salty. Salty, meet sweet. There. Now that that’s taken care of, we’ll let you two get acquainted. (Why did no one think to introduce them until now?! How rude of us.)
Caramel-Dipped Pretzel Sticks
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 50 M
- Makes about 100
Special Equipment: Candy or deep-fry thermometer
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the syrup, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. At this point, stop stirring, although you can tilt the pan to swirl the mixture. Cook, uncovered, tilting the pan occasionally as the temperature rises, until the mixture reaches 305°F (150°C) on a candy thermometer. Be careful not to overcook the sugar mixture.
Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F (150°C), remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Carefully and gradually stir in the hot cream. (It will bubble up and steam pretty violently, so be careful.) The caramel will clump up as some of the caramel solidifies, but don’t worry about this. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more frequently later on, until the mixture is smooth again and reaches 260°F (125°C), which ought to take 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside for 5 minutes or so, until it thickens to the texture of molasses. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dip each pretzel stick into the caramel about a third to halfway up the stick, tilting and swirling the stick as you remove it from the caramel to catch the drips and let them coat the bottom of each pretzel stick. Place the pretzel sticks on the parchment and let set until cool. If the caramel thickens to the point where you can’t dip the pretzels anymore, warm it over low heat until it’s once again dippable. Then crunch away.
Salted Caramels Variation
Rather than dip pretzel sticks into the caramel, you could simply make salted caramel pieces. Follow the instructions above, but pour the caramel into a 9-inch square pan lined with buttered aluminum foil. Let it set for an hour or so, until slightly firm but still tacky. Sprinkle the surface lightly with flaky or coarse sea salt, pressing gently to help it adhere, and leave for another 3 to 4 hours, until firm. Remove the whole block of caramel and cut it into small squares. Wrap each caramel individually in waxed paper or cellophane.
Recipe Testers' Tips
This caramel-dipped pretzel sticks recipe appealed to me because of its sweet and salty combination. I find many recipes don't pull it off—the ratio is never quite right. But this one pulled it off beautifully. We made half a batch of pretzel sticks dipped in just caramel, then we dipped the rest of the batch in chocolate over the caramel. Both were outstanding.The recipe worked as written, was easy to follow, and the end result was lovely. It might just be my stovetop, but it took my caramel about 10 minutes to become smooth and reach 260°F, whereas the recipe said 15 minutes. Again, it could be my stove—or the fact that I'm in Canada and my house is freezing. (Honesty is always the best policy.)
Salty sweet yumminess! My kids loved these caramel-dipped pretzel sticks. But making caramel is scary business. While the instructions were well thought out, I do think more of an emphasis could be placed on how violently the mixture foams up and steams, especially for first-time caramel makers. Also, my caramel never completely de-clumped after the addition of the warm cream. But I stuck with it (literally--ha ha!) and worked enough of the clumps out to be able to proceed to the dipping stage.