So I like playing with my food. I especially like making turtle shaped foods whenever I can. I attempted turtle shaped pretzels a long time ago. It’s something I’ve been wanting to revisit for a long time to improve on my first attempt.

These turtles came out much cuter than my first attempt. I rolled the dough out into ropes but then instead of shaping them like pretzels, I rolled the dough into a spiral shape. After that I pinched the front to shape a head, and pinched the sides to form feet and tail. The first time I had used separate pieces of dough for the face and feet, but this led to the dough falling off.

For the eyes, I was thinking of putting little dollops of chocolate, but I was too lazy to melt chocolate and instead I cut a little slit and stuck a brown colored sprinkled inside for each eye. I am pretty happy with the end result.
I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting.
Turtle Soft Pretzels (adapted from Alton Brown)

Yields: approx 16 small pretzels

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg

Directions

1. Combine the warm water, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and butter and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place the dough in a glass bowl oiled with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12 inch rope. Wrap the dough into a spiral shape. Pinch a large piece of the dough in the front to shape a head. Pinch little pieces where the feet and hands should be to form feet and hands and a small piece at the end for the tail.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

4. Using a large sauce pan, fill with water and bring and the baking soda to a rolling boil.

5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Place pretzels on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat mat.

6. Beat one large egg. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 6-7 minutes. After pretzels have cooled, add eyes to turtles. You can put drops of chocolate. Or you can stick sprinkles in for eyes. I cut a small slit and stuck sprinkles inside.

Savory soft pretzels

I’m made soft pretzels a few times on this blog. I had a craving for them recently and thought they’d make a great snack while watching the Oscar’s. I wanted to try a variation on the classic, and decided to make a savory one. I originally wanted to do pepperoni and cheese but I was out of pepperoni. So instead I used some salami, which worked just as well.

I rolled some of the meat and cheese inside of the dough ropes. I kept the surface clean since the pretzels need to be boiled in water. After I boiled them, I sprinkled the tops with salami and cheese before setting them to bake.

These came out tasty. I made them small so they were the perfect Oscar viewing party snack.

Salami and Cheese Soft Pretzels (adapted from Alton Brown)

Yields: approx 16 small pretzels

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp  active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg
1 cup shredded cheese
2/3 cup salami, cut into small pieces

Directions

1. Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for  about 5 minutes. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place the dough in a glass bowl oiled with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Spread some cheese and salami and then roll dough into the cheese and salami so that some of the salami and cheese gets attached to the dough. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12 inch rope. Take the dough and make a pretzel shape. Place onto the parchment-lined baking pan.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

4. Using a large sauce pan, bring water  and the baking soda to a rolling boil.

5. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.

6. Beat one large egg. Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg. Sprinkle some salami and cheese onto pretzel surface. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 6-7 minutes.

I’ve made doughnut muffins a couple of times on this blog in different various forms. It’s one of my favorite recipes. Shaped like a muffin, the mini muffins taste very much like a sugar cake donut, except that it is baked instead of fried and doesn’t use any yeast. So far I’ve made mini donut muffins with chocolate glaze, mini pumpkin donut muffins, and cinnamon sugar pumpkin donut muffins.

It’s so easy to whip together, and you don’t even need a mixer. I’ve been playing around with different variations of the recipe. The other day, I got the idea to add some nutella. Since these are great breakfast treats, adding nutella seemed like a great idea.

I didn’t want to mix the nutella directly into the batter because this often causes the nutella flavor to get lost. So for my first attempt, I added a dollop of nutella to the middle of each. Unfortunately, once they baked, the nutella sank to the bottom. They tasted great, but I didn’t like the chocolate being stuck at the bottom.

So then I decided to try swirling the nutella with the batter. And these came out much better. The nutella taste still stands out and you get little bits of pure nutella mixed with the batter, but because it is swirled with the batter, it also doesn’t sink down. They look pretty cool swirled also and don’t need any decorating on top.

I couldn’t stop popping these in my mouth, they were so tasty. These make a perfect breakfast treat!

Nutella Swirl Donut Muffins (adapted from recipe found on Stylish Cuisine)

Ingredients

3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup fat free milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
nutella

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg until combined. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Mix until combined.

3. Then mix in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.

4. Fill each mini muffin cup about 2/3 full with batter. Add a dollop of nutella to each and swirl it around a few times with a knife.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow muffins to cool before serving.