How to make cute pretzel pumpkins (without screwing up)

I've been seeing lots of recipes for Pumpkin Pretzels on Pinterest over the past few months, always with beautiful photos of smooth, satiny coated pretzels, and I've thought, That's the craft for me!  Just pretzels and candy melts, how hard could it be?

It turns out, nothing is as easy as it seems!  I assumed the candy melts would melt into a smooth, runny liquid that coat the pretzels easily, like a chocolate fountain. Unfortunately, candy melts never reach that runny stage, so if you think you can just dunk a pretzel and have it emerge perfectly coated, you're in for a surprise.  The candy melts are quite thick, even when melted, and the excess does NOT drip off.  You're more likely to get a huge clump of candy melt sticking to your pretzel, which you'll try to smooth down with a spatula or knife, which will make the melted goo stick up in points, which might result in these beauties:

I know Halloween is supposed to be all about scary things, but I was kind of aiming for cute treats, not mutant pumpkins.

It took me a couple of tries to get the pretzels looking like this:

There are just a couple of tips and tricks to getting nicely coated pretzels:

* thin the candy melts with vegetable oil
* use a spatula to dip the pretzels into the candy melts
* tap the pretzel against the side of your bowl to get rid of the excess candy melt

Here are step by step instructions, with photos to guide you every step of the way:


You will need:
* 1 bag of orange Wilton candy melts (14 oz)
* 1/4 bag of green Wilton candy melts
* 1 tsp vegetable oil
* 1 bag of small pretzels (about 100 pretzels)
* a small offset spatula
* a small bowl
* a clean dishtowel to wipe your hands
* a baking sheet, lined with waxed paper

1)  Microwave the orange candy melts in a small bowl.  Make sure the bowl is not too large; you want the candy melts to be nice and deep when they're melted, so you can dip them easily.  Follow the instructions on the Wilton candy melts bag --1 minute on 50% power, then 30-second increments on 50% power until melted, stirring thoroughly.  I worked in 2 batches, with half the bag at a time, and it took me about 2 minutes to get it completely melted.

2)  Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil to thin out the melted candy (since I was working with only half the bag, I added 1/2 tsp).  Stir thorougly.

3)  Place a pretzel into the bowl and dunk it into the melted candy.

4)  I mean it, DUNK it!  Use the spatula to push it deep into the bowl and make sure the pretzel is completely covered on both sides.

5) Use the spatula to carefully lift the coated pretzel out of the bowl.

6) While the pretzel is balanced on the spatula, gently tap the pretzel against the side of the bowl. This is the most important step in getting that nice, smooth coating! Tap the spatula/pretzel carefully, and the excess melted candy will gradually drip back into the bowl.

7) Carefully grasp the pretzel with the thumb and forefinger of your free hand and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.

8) The pretzel should be evenly coated everywhere except for the spots that your fingers touched.  You can dab a bit of candy melt onto the bare spots with the spatula, then tap the entire baking sheet against the countertop to get your touch-ups to settle down.

9) Wipe your fingers clean with a clean dishtowel, and stir your bowl of candy melts with your spatula, scraping off the splattered candy melt on the sides and edges so your bowl is reasonably clean.  Repeat steps 3 through 9 until you run out of candy melt!   A bag of candy melts (14 oz) should be enough to coat about 100 small pretzels. It does take time to do them all (it took me over an hour!), so the candy melts might start to harden.  If that happens, reheat your bowl in the microwave at 50% power, for 30 seconds.

10) Transfer the tray to the freezer for a couple of minutes.  While the coating is hardening, place some green candy melts into a ziploc bag and melt them in the microwave.   Don't add any vegetable oil to this batch!  Once melted, take out your tray of coated pretzels from the freezer, and pipe a leaf onto the top (I piped a few squiggles of gradually decreasing length).

And there you have it, decent looking pumpkin pretzels without having to make a "practice batch" of hideous looking ones!

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