Chocolate Pretzels

I am now the proud owner of the Martha Stewart Cookie book and Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and simply cannot be baking enough these days. With my new kitchen aid mixer I am virtually unstoppable. I have quite a few baking supplies/ingredients left over from all of my holiday candy making so I have been narrowing down my choices by making things that don't require a trip to the grocery store......the snow and freezing temps have also ignited my baking drive a bit. I suppose another factor in my choices is the new year's inspiration to drop a few pounds, but a girl's got to eat and I just can't cut out sweets entirely.

My first recipe for the new year was Martha Stewart's Chocolate Pretzels from her cookie book. although they are shaped like pretzels they remind me much more of a biscuit or biscotti. They are not very sweet and taste best with coffee or tea. They turned out well, but not quite sweet enough for my taste. I much prefer a pretzel covered in chocolate. I could see myself making these again, but only in addition to a variety of other cookies and sweets in order to fill up a tray and add something that breaks up the really sweet things.

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (I used some left over sugar sprinkles I had from my christmas sugar cookies)

1. Stir cocoa and espresso powders into the boiling water in a small bowl until dissolved; set aside. Meanwhile, put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy. Mix in vanilla and salt. Reduce speed to medium-low. Mix in egg, then cocoa mixture. Gradually add flour, and mix until a smooth dough forms. Turn out onto a piece of plastic; pat into a square. Wrap dough, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.

2. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll into balls. Shape balls into 12-inch-long ropes. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

3. Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until dry, about 35 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.
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