Isaac had strep throat twice this winter. It’s almost a relief when you get the diagnosis, because you know what it is, and you know how to treat it. There must have been a time before antibiotics were discovered that it would have been such dire news. The medicine usually kicks in right away, but you can’t send the kid to school for another twenty-four hours. I like that grace period! I like spending a day with one of my boys, when it almost seems like they’re playing hooky, because they feel well enough to do (quiet) fun things. We’re always both a little tired, from nights of staying up feeling ill or worrying (I do a lot of that!), so it’s nice to cuddle on the couch and read, or draw, or sit in the sunshine. Or bake! It seems to have become a tradition that we’ll bake cookies, usually based on some idea of the boys’ clever little brains.This nutella-filled pretzel cookie, though, is something I’ve been scheming about for a while. Over the summer it was all the rage to dip skinny little pretzel sticks into a giant jar of nutella. (An invention of their cousin, Evan) It is an oddly perfect combination. Mild and salty meets almost-too-sweet. So that’s what we decided to do here. I wasn’t sure if the nutella would stay inside the pretzel, what with all the baking and the boiling. I was delighted that it (mostly) did! On a few of the pretzels, the nutella leaked out and somehow melded with the salt and the butter and lord knows what else to form completely delicious little crispy chips. Someday…I will find a way to make them.
We mixed up the dough, and then we had to let it rest for an hour, so I suggested Isaac have some lunch while we wait. “A lunch break!” he declared. “This is the first job I’ve ever had where I got a lunch break!”
These cookie pretzels are very popular in my family at the moment. Although for some reason David keeps saying, “you shouldn’t have done this!” They are dangerously good!!
We went to the doctor twice, and both times, this song was playing when we drove back down the flower-lined streets of our town. Isaac said, “this is one of my favorite songs at the moment.” Which is funny, cause it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s Barbara Dane with Ramblin’ Round. I’ve heard it a million times, and it makes me weepy every single time I hear it, as though I’ve never heard it before.
2 cups flour
1 t fine salt
2 T brown sugar
2 T soft butter
1 t yeast
1 t sugar
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, and set aside for about 10 minutes.
Put the flour in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt. Make a well in the center, and add the butter and yeast mixture. Stir to combine, and then add water or flour, if necessary, to make a workable dough. Turn out onto a counter and knead for about 7 minutes, till it’s soft and elastic.
Put it in a bowl covered by a damp cloth, and set aside in a warm place for about an hour.
Take a lunch break.
When you’re ready to make the pretzels, preheat the oven to 400 and set a large soup pot 1/2 full of water to boil.
Break off about a quarter of the dough. Roll it into a snake shape, and then roll it flat. It should be about 1/4 inch thick and 4 or 5 inches wide. Cut it into pieces about 2 inches wide. Put a teaspoon of nutella in the center of a piece. Roll it in half, short end to short end. Roll up the edge, and pinch the corners together. Fold everything in onto itself, and try to make it quite smooth, with one seam in the center that is secure enough to hold when the little bundle is dropped in boiling water. It took me a couple of tries to figure out the best way to do this – and you might come up with your own better way! My advice…be sure you don’t squeeze the nutella out the sides; don’t stretch the dough too thin, or the nutella will find it’s way out when it bakes; make sure you gather all the little edges together and fold them under or into themselves, because this makes a nice tight seal. Place them seam side down on a plate, and let them sit while you make the rest.
Once they’re all shaped, and the water is boiling, drop 4 or 5 little bundles carefully into the boiling water. Give them a nudge with your slotted spoon so they don’t stick to the bottom, but don’t stir them. Wait 30 seconds (or, less scientifically, count to 60) Remove them back to a dry clean plate, and let them dry for a moment while you dunk the rest.
Once they’ve all been boiled…Lightly butter or oil a baking sheet. Place the little bundles seam-side down on the sheet. Brush each generously with beaten egg, and shake a generous amount of coarse salt on each.
Bake for about 20 minutes, till they’re a deep golden brown on top. I moved mine to the top shelf at the end.