Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (dipped in chocolate!)

March 25, 2011 at 12:07 am 133 comments

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (dipped in chocolate)

Inspiration has hit me again. Pretty hard. And this time I think it’ll be harder to shake.

I had some free time between classes, so I went to the store. For the first time in my life, I bought myself basic ingredients, starting with absolutely nothing. I tried to balance quality and price as I grabbed flour, sugar (white, brown, and powdered), vanilla, salt, butter, cream, and eggs… At the very last minute, standing in the check out line, I ran back to get baking powder and soda. Almost forgot.

When the total came up and I took out my wallet, I mentally calculated how many tables I’d have to wait to gain it back. Since when was baking such an expensive hobby?

This being-an-adult, shopping-for-your-own-groceries thing is tough. But I smiled the whole ride home.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

As the week went on, the anticipation grew. I think this is what I discovered. When the only times you bake are for dinner with the neighbors, birthdays, holidays and paid orders, something is wrong. When you’re baking just because? Because you want to, because it’s Thursday, because there are four pounds of sugar under your bed? These reasons are happiness-generators, like fresh batches of Play Doh and abandoned fields of dandelions.

Faced with the freedom of no guidelines, I couldn’t decide whether to go crunchy or chewy, warm or chilled, chocolate-glazed or baked with fruit. On Saturday I was sure I would make a citrusy pound cake. Sunday I’d switched to some kind of breakfast scone, easy to share with the common room… By Tuesday I found myself wanting a few secret pots de creme in my mini-fridge, a midnight snack just for me.

Then, considering the mediocre fruit selection in the dining hall at lunchtime, it hit me. I took three ripe pears and looked up a recipe for clafouti. I packed all the ingredients and tools, plus a book and my camera. I lugged the ridiculously heavy bag down the street to the dorm building that has kitchens.

Peanut Butter

The kitchen was a bit of a letdown. There was no soap by the sink for dishes. The windows were blocked by buildings and didn’t let in any natural light, so no photographs. But I figured out how to work the oven, mixed the clafouti batter as best I could, and hoped for success. I sat down to read and discovered that, somewhere in Chapter 2, I could smell sugar.

I pulled the puffed, golden-brown custard out of the oven and experienced a more real satisfaction than I could have possibly imagined. My bones felt solid, my lungs felt full, and would you believe it, I felt starved. I washed the dishes and repacked the bag in a dream, and as I turned to leave, I grabbed the still-hot pan without thinking. My hand automatically opened and the clafouti splattered like vanilla-infused ink. The metal pan clattered against the linoleum and I thought it would never stop ringing in my ears and in the corners of the empty kitchen.

Empty-handed, without photos or a taste. Bitterness started to settle like steeping tea.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

But then, in spite of myself, I laughed. No regrets, no tears. Because, let’s be real, it was a pretty stupid move on my part, but it didn’t take away any of the pleasure I got from the baking process. Blog post or not, for one afternoon, I felt unfiltered elation. Maybe there was a lesson in the unsalvageable clafouti – the joy comes from the process, not from being recognized as the “baking blogger” or from eating a lot of cream.

Instead, I’m sharing these Peanut Butter Pretzel bites with you. They’re easy enough to make from a dorm. Creamy peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla combine in a rich and addictive filling. Sandwiched between two crisp, salty pretzels and dunked in bittersweet chocolate, you end up with an incredible party snack that vanishes fast.

No mixer required. No fiddling with foreign ovens. You can even melt the chocolate in the microwave (which I did.) The result is a delicious, one bite contradiction of creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty, peanutty and chocolatey.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (dipped in chocolate)

I knew right away they wouldn’t survive the weekend, but that’s okay. I’ve still got 3 ½ pounds of sugar under my bed. That’s reason enough for me.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

Actually, is there really any reason not to make these?

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (Dipped in Chocolate!)
Adapted from Foodaphilia
Makes around 45-60 bite sizes sandwiches

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pretzels
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract until well mixed – you may need to add more to get the filling thick and stiff enough to hold its shape.

Roll teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture between your palms to form balls. Sandwich between two pretzels and put on a plate or cookie sheet. Freeze the pretzel sandwiches for half an hour.

Melt the chocolate chips, using the microwave (30 second intervals) or a double boiler. Dip half of each pretzel sandwich in chocolate. Return the tray to the freezer and chill until the chocolate sets. Store the Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites in the refrigerator until serving time.

Printer-Friendly Recipe – Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (dipped in chocolate!)

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133 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jenny  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:11 am

    This looks super delicious – and finally simple enough for me to try! ;) I totally understand what you mean by buying things from scratch; once you start paying for things yourself, everything just gets super expensive! Great post as always :)

    Reply
  • 2. Lauren  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Yes, please.

    Happy to hear you’re baking more, Elissa! Starting with the basics is such a fun thing. Can’t wait to hear about the results of the other 3 1/2 pounds :).

    Reply
    • 3. Lexie  |  March 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      This treat looks absolutely amazing and definitely something that I will try in the future. Doesn’t look too difficult and I can imagine the end result is delicious (A win win situation for me)!! Thank you for sharing your ideas and spunk and for giving all of us inspiration to be creative in the comfort of our kitchens!

  • 4. Jacy  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Those look adorable and delicious! What’s better than chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, all in one bite? :)

    Reply
  • 5. SeattleDee  |  March 25, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Ouch! sorry to hear about the hot pot incident, but loved your positive attitude. Your chocolate-dipped pretzels are a nifty snack, but it’s your post that is the real treat.

    Now about those remaining pounds of sugar….

    Reply
  • 6. Leah  |  March 25, 2011 at 1:43 am

    I totally know where you’re coming from – dorm kitchens can be frightful when people don’t clean up after themselves. I’m lucky enough to have one in the basement of my building, but it’s quite a change coming from a kitchen at home organized and well stocked with the proper basics and tools – it always makes me laugh how our kitchen has about four ice cream scoops but no good spatula, seven saucepans but no cookie sheet, four skillets but no 9×13, a sketchy-looking blender but no good mixing bowl . . . I always forget to bring a potholder, too – I just baked some cupcakes and had to improvise with grilling tongs . . .

    Anyway, thanks for the dorm-cooking friendly recipe and the enjoyable post as always. =]

    Reply
  • 7. Tara  |  March 25, 2011 at 5:18 am

    These look gorgeous! I’m making a special birthday dinner tonight and I was looking for a nice quick pudding…! I think these are just the trick!

    Reply
  • 8. Dinner and things « C'est la Vie  |  March 25, 2011 at 5:39 am

    [...] dinner at home tonight. Phylo & goats cheese parcels. Butter chicken with home-made naan. With these for pudding. Don’t they look yummy? And so easy too! (And while you’re there, check out [...]

    Reply
  • 9. Grown Up Rachel  |  March 25, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Girl. These look amazing & I’m making them THIS WEEK. Today even. I swear.

    It IS definitely a shock when you realize how much time, effort, and cash money parents put into just feeding us amazing food. And, in your case (and many others), buying ingredients for you to create delicious meals out of.

    Reply
  • 10. kawaiikitchen  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Oh I feel so sorry to hear about the clafouti … but I’m glad you discovered the peanut butter pretzels ;) wonderful post, as always … I really enjoyed reading it!

    Reply
  • 11. Blog is the New Black  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I need these in my life NOW!

    Reply
  • 12. Madison M  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I remember when I first started grocery shopping on my own and realizing how expensive it was! It really is a shock to the wallet when you realize that baking actually costs money. I’m sure my parents were more than happy to have me out of the house, though!

    Reply
  • 13. d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

    What a creative idea and super simple! Yum!

    Reply
  • 14. mmarthaa  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am

    They look so delicious yet so easy… love your descriptions!

    mmarthaa.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • 15. Spicy Bohemian  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Love that you’re back to baking despite the challenges of not having your own kitchen. I so look forward to your posts! And it is all about the journey, isn’t it? :)

    Reply
  • 16. Victor  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    It looks a lot like an orea covered with a chocolate coating. This is such a simple treat. Another great story, I always enjoy reading it.

    Reply
  • 17. jessncanfield  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    yumm! Those look so yummy and simple! Perfect for filling a baking void with only a little time! I love your blog! It inspired me to make mine!

    http://jessicanoelbakes.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  • 18. Christina  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    How funny is it that I posted these exact pretzel bites today too?! Hahaha…they are sooooo good and yours look great :)

    Reply
  • 19. ~~Rhonda  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I am always glad to see a new post from you, knowing you are busy with school. Glad you found some time to share your latest culinary diversion. So sorry about the clafouti. Hoping your hand is OK. The peanut butter pretzel bites sounds so good that I printed the recipe.We’ll give these a whirl when my four sisters and two SILs come for the weekend in May for Sisters’ Weekend. I am sure they would love this little treat! Thanks for sharing! ~~Rhonda

    Reply
  • 20. Geni - Sweet and Crumby  |  March 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Good for you! It’s tough not to let “kitchen catastrophes” get you down, but you did not and now you have these delicious little pretzels! I can’t tell you how many times i have dropped a hot pan out of the oven and destroyed my baked goods. So sad. You’d think I would have learned from doing it once…but no, not me. I have a post about an Almost Grasshopper Pie that turned into a parfait…it was a day of disasters in the kitchen but somehow we plow through. Now what are you going to do with all that sugar?

    Reply
  • 21. Lindsey  |  March 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    These look delicious.

    And I totally know what you mean about baking, I turn to it as a way to de-stress. I also do love to bake for dinner with neighbors and all that jazz, but I absolutely love doing it just because. Which I plan to do this weekend. :)

    Reply
  • 22. Lacey  |  March 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Way to make the best of things! When I first started baking, I had major sticker-shock, too. Now, as someone with a satisfying but pretty low-paying job, what I cook and bake have more to do than I’d like with how much money is in my bank account.

    Thanks for posting a quick, easy, and cheap snack for the proletariat! ;-)

    Reply
  • 23. Allison  |  March 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    As usual, your writing and photos blow me away. I love hearing about your college experiences, and good for you for attempting to bake in a dorm! Something I would have never done when I was in college. Next time I’m sure they’ll be no accidents!

    Reply
  • 24. paddle attachment  |  March 25, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    These look delightful. Definitely a yummy party snack! I also enjoyed reading the back story. I forgot about dorm cooking and all of its obstacles. Good luck!

    Reply
  • 25. GoodBye Gluten  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    After going gluten-free, I’ve missed pretzels. The gluten-free version aren’t horrible but they’re not amazing either. However… filled with peanut butter goodness and dipped in chocolate. I can’t wait! Thanks :)

    Reply
  • 26. Amy  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    oh yum! i’m not a fan of prezels, but this combo may just make me want to love them!

    Reply
  • 27. gia  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    i wil try these for sure!! being a college student who craves to bake treats, this is the closest thing yet, as I don’t have access to a kitchen at school.

    keep it up!

    Reply
  • 28. Hannah - Oven Hoots  |  March 26, 2011 at 3:42 am

    these look like the perfect midnight snack to stop between chapters in my school book.

    Reply
  • 29. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  March 26, 2011 at 8:13 am

    These are adorable, and a great idea for college baking. I love baking just for the sake of doing it, and it’s so nice to hear you didn’t feel like you wasted your time when the clafoutis didn’t turn out. The process is always my favorite part!

    Reply
  • 30. Lea  |  March 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    They look great! But I’m really not fond of peanut butter (this is just not as popular here as in the USA,-
    But I would love to try it once.

    By the way, what lens do you use?

    Reply
  • 31. Karissa  |  March 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Peanut butter and chocolate, one of my favorite combinations. Chocolate and pretzel, another one of my faves. The three together would be amazing! Great pics & story

    Reply
  • 32. Stephanie  |  March 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Maybe this could be your next challenge, Elissa — instead of posting photos/recipes of things you made your last summer at home, why not post the trials the tribulations of learning to bake on a limited budget, with very limited equipment? It would be entertaining and I’m absolutely certain you’d come up with some creative masterpieces like this. You could even write a book for college bakers like yourself — at least the profits would help pay for the groceries! :)

    Reply
  • 33. J@makehappyblog.com  |  March 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    You just found my food Achilles heel. Peanut butter and chocolate is my most favorite indulgent combination!

    Reply
  • 34. Jamie Cuerrier  |  March 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I missed your posts! I’m glad you’ll continue to blog. Also, these look delicious!

    Reply
  • 35. itsthecookiemonster  |  March 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    i love reading your posts! u write beautifully :)

    Reply
  • 36. Jules from A Little Bite of Life  |  March 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I think I have died and gone to heaven. I have been craving peanut butter and chocolate lately, and am going to have to give these a try-thank you!

    Reply
  • 37. Kathy  |  March 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Sorry about your clafouti disaster. Having dropped an entire hot pumpkin pie years ago, I know these are experiences you don’t forget. Did you use regular sized pretzels or the little bite sized ones?

    Reply
  • 38. Elissa's Dad  |  March 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    OK I think I finally stopped laughing hard enough to comment. When did this become such an expensive hobby? Pffft you think baking costs big bucks, try college bills on for size young lady!!!!

    OK stop rolling your eyes now :)

    I love watching you, I know and understand your nuance and get so much joy watching you as you change. In many ways I hope you are not like me and do not share my many failings, but I know I have some things to offer. I am glad you listened and took to heart deviled egg days. I am joyous that you have shown wisdom in what it really means-life will be more rich, more full and more joyous this way.

    Now where is my clafouti?

    Reply
    • 39. Sondha  |  April 11, 2011 at 4:31 am

      I always scroll through to read for your Dad’s comment, and I always get a warm glow from reading them when they’re there, to see how proud he is of you, and the love that emanates from your relationship. You have between you a relationship I would have loved to have with my Dad, and it makes me so happy that close healthy loving parental relationships still exist in the public eye.

  • 40. Shannon Marie - Forks Knives & Spades  |  March 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Ooooh, these look delicious! What is better than salty, sweet, creamy, and crunchy all in one?! These could be good too with a little melted square of caramel on one pretzel. Well done!

    Reply
  • 41. Jen @ keepitsimplefoods  |  March 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    These look amazing! Love the simplicity and the contrasting flavors- sweet and salty at its finest!

    Reply
  • 42. cozydelicious  |  March 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    These are such a fun snack! I love teh ided of serving them as part of a dessert spread. Yum! (oh, and from experience… if you keep a bag of sugar under your dorm bed, be sure it’s in a super airtight container.. you don’t want to know what can happen otherwise…)

    Reply
  • 43. foodfanataholic  |  March 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I’ve been making these for years, since my kids were small, they love them…

    Reply
  • 44. Jennifer  |  March 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    As someone more than twice your age, I am what some may call a ‘late bloomer’. If I had even an ounce of your enthusiasm for life at your age I would be in a much different place now. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Reply
  • 46. The Teenage Taste  |  March 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    These. Look. Amazing! I bet the sweet and salty flavors taste delicious. I have to make these! :-D

    Reply
  • 47. Somerset Industries  |  March 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    You’re absolutely right! The real joy comes from the baking, not just the eating (although that part is a pretty close second). Good for you, laughing at the mishap and rediscovering how much fun baking is when it’s just about the baking.

    Reply
  • 48. Tori Greaves  |  March 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    The two most beloved ingredients of my life: peanut butter and chocolate! Both so simple and yet able to do so much. Kind of like your little afternoon adventure. Though the outcome was not exactly what you expected, the time itself was momentary, unplanned bliss. Sometimes we need those little moments in life-to wash over us, fill us with familiar warm smells and delights, give us a breath of sweet air. They bring us back down to earth – to the present – away from our busy lives. And we remember, as you did, the reason why life is so wonderful and what it is we love to do!

    So whether it’s during an afternoon baking, or a late night delicious snack, it’s really good to sit still for a moment and enjoy the wonderful life we’ve been given!

    Reply
  • 49. Emily T  |  March 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    These are adorable! I’m jealous because I’m allergic to peanuts, unfortunately.

    I like how you talk about the joy of baking simply to bake. I go through that with my cooking too.

    Reply
  • 50. Time and Space and Food  |  March 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I know you get a ton of comments, but I just wanted to say that you inspired me to try baking and photography. And now I can’t stop. I’ve switched my purse for my camera bag.

    Sincerely,
    Elisabeth, a fellow teenage baker

    Reply
  • 51. Amanda  |  March 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Those look so good! My two favorite combinations with the twist of pretzel that I will definitely have to try. Its nice to know that even though you experienced a set back, you did not let that stop you from what you wanted to accomplish! Very inspiriting!!!

    Reply
  • 52. Kate Ramos  |  March 30, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Yum! Yum! and Yum! I’m officially drooling at 8:17am. Beautiful photos too!

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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