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what went wrong with my chocolate-dipped pretzels?

The saga of the bake sale....

Ok, so someone recently asked about things for bake sales, and I was one of those who suggested chocolate dipped pretzels. I'd seen them before, never made them, but how hard could it be? I've got a bake sale for the elementary school on Saturday, so decided to try it.

Far be it from me to actually look at a recipe, so I bought some pretzel logs and a couple big bars of Hershey.

So I start. I figure I want a small pan so I can dip them deep. So I very very slowly melt my bars. After about 20 minutes (I was being careful), they are nicely melted. Only problem is, I can only dip the pretzel in about an inch and a half. Oh well, I dip, lay them on wax paper, and sprinkle them with, well, sprinkles. They look nice. My daughter says they need more chocolate. Everyone's a critic.

Then I decide maybe (at this late stage) I ought to look for a recipe. So I do a web search, and they all seem to use choc. chips. I remember something on this board about chips having a higher melting point (or something). So I grab a bag of chips and add it to my melted chocoate. I also decide that a tall glass in the microwave would give me greater "depth". So I stick my (probably not microwave safe) glass in the zapper and very carefully melt it. Take the glass out of the zapper and stir. Kind of lumpy and grainy; not smooth and glossy like the Hersheys was. Dip a couple more but the texture isn't nice.

So I dump the glop back into my small pot and do the double boiler thing (scared of the glass blowing up in my microwave). Double boil, double boil on and on, just glop, grainy, lumpy, terrible. Added a bit of butter since a recipe said to, no help.

Now I dump the stuff into a bowl and start zapping some more.Soon the lovely smell of burning chocolate and I decide to make brownies. My son of course said "just stir it up and use it. Kids aren't critics." probably true.

But why didn't the chips melt, since that's what the recipes all seemed to want me to use?

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  1. When you melt chocolate chips, you're supposed to melt it with butter. At least that's what I do. I could be wrong, but that's how I've done it in the past and it always comes out yummy.

    1. The problem you had has to do with thermodynamics, the science of microwaves, and molecular food science, among other things.

      Chocolate chips usually have a very little bit of parafin wax that will help it set up when it cools. This is different that tempering the chocolate. Also, puting it in a tall, skinney glass will not promote even melting and may cause chocolate burnage.

      As for the chocolate you melted first, were you stirring it while you were "being very careful" or just letting it sit in the pan? The cocoa solids could have burned if they weren't stirred. When that happens, your couverture is toast. Adding more chocolate chunks, chips, butter, etc will not fix it. Just throw it out (or give it to the kiddies) and start over.

      Check out this other thread dealing with chocolate tempering:


      2 Replies
      1. re: Non Cognomina

        The first batch (slowly melted in the pot) was fine, it was only after I added the chips that everything went south. It may well have burned in the microwave to some degree--

        problem of trying to debug a program and review a paper while working at home because of the broken furnace, and make bake sale items all at the same time...

        1. re: Non Cognomina

          I don't quite understand your use of the term couverture; I've looked it up on the web and it seems to imply a particularly high quality of chocolate (not what I was using, that's for sure). Is there another meaning?

          Noun 1. couverture - chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter

        2. I have often added shortening or butter to the chips for melting

          1. When you put it over the double broiler, water might have gotten on it and caused it to seize (even from steam if the water was boiling). It still tastes fine but has a lumpy graininess. Adding the butter, especially if cold, would compound it.

            Someone told me to make chocolate covered pretzels, the easiest thing to do is to use the pretzel shaped pretzels (the ones w/ the twist), put a hershey kiss on it and bake it on low 200 degrees for a few minutes until it melts.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              that, I believe, could have happened-- thanks (and maybe I'll try the quickie method you mention next time I try to do this!)

              1. re: chowser

                That's what I was thinking, that some water got into it when she put it on the stove.

              2. I buy the chocolate in the produce department. It comes in a microwavable container. It's easy, but you have to be careful not to over micro as it will burn. I think mixing the two kinds was your problem. Try again, it is a fun activity for the kids. They love to dip and sprinke. I do it with pretzels and strawberries.

                1. Oh, I'm sure that I'll catch all kinds of crap for this, but I got this fun/ny and tasty WT recipe for "turtles"

                  Buy those small pretzels (the knots)
                  put a Rolo on it
                  smash a half a pecan on top and warm it in the oven so it melts a bit.

                  Voila! I brought them to work last year with all the mucky-muck academics and they were the biggest hit, even over the handmade italian almond cookies I made from that secret family recipe. Feeling were hurt, but then I realized WHOA this is too easy to be angry.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MB fka MB

                    doesn't a lot of the candy end up "in the holes"? These are the skinny little knots about an inch or so across?

                    1. re: DGresh

                      Yes, those skinny little knot pretzels. The candy melts through just a bit - you need to watch them so they don't melt too much. But they really are good.

                  2. Thanks, looked it up on the web so I could see a picture to visualize them; I think I'll give it a try tonight, in addition to the brownies I made last night.

                    And I'm quite certain now after reading up some more that it was water from my double-boiler that caused the problem. I was not previously aware of this hazard; now I am!

                    1. Sounds like you burned the chocolate in the microwave. Putting it back into double boiler won't help.

                      I'm pretty traditional when it comes to melting chocolate - the double boiler works best for me.

                      1. I melt Trader Joe's or Ghirardelli bulk choc bars (cut into small pieces) in a small stainlees steel bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Then remove the bowl, wipe the bottom of steam, and dip from the bowl. Using rods about 6 or 7" gives you an undipped end for a handle while eating. Usually dip in caramel first(melted caramels with a bit of water to thin) then when cooled drizzle with chocolate and sometimes sprinkle with nuts.

                        Yes, people do go nuts for the sugar-salt-creamy-crunchy thing.

                        1. Melting chocolate chips in the microwave usually works for me if I do it for just 15 seconds or so at a time, stir, let sit for a minute, and then put back in. It will melt more as you stir it, so stop putting it back in when the chips are mostly melted. I agree with a previous poster that the tall glass probably didn't help.