December 7th, 2009
Annalie and I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. I was awake before Annalie for once, but I stayed in bed where it was warm, listening to the rain. It wasn’t long before Annalie woke up. She immediately hopped out from under the covers to stand on the bed and peer out the window, then turned to me, all excited. “Mom! It’s raining! Can I go outside and play?”
Whaaaat? What do you mean, it’s not everyone’s first impulse to go outside at 8am and play in the rain in their pajamas? This does not compute.
I know some people despise rain. They dread days without sunshine. All I can say is, I sympathize but I don’t really understand. I love rain. I have done for as long as I can remember. Days when I wake up to rain are just about the only days when I’m happy to get up early. When Troy is home he normally lets me sleep in on Saturdays but if it’s a rainy morning he wakes me up, because he knows I won’t want to miss the rain. I’ll go to the kitchen and get myself a cup of coffee and then position myself near a (preferably open) window so I can watch and hear the rain.
Rain is my happy weather. It’s next to impossible for me to be in a bad mood when it’s raining.
Annalie loves rain too. I have many, many photos of her playing in the rain, jumping in puddles, holding an umbrella, even drawing with sidewalk chalk in the rain. Rain is fun! Not to mention the cup of hot chocolate she knows she’ll get when she goes inside.
Rainy days are also good for baking. Today I cranked up some Christmas music and got a whole bunch of my Christmas baking done, which means in the next day or two I’ll be getting a whole bunch of Christmas mailing done. And I only ate a half-dozen or so of the World’s Best Apricot Cookies. Maybe a few more than that.
Unfortunately I had to refrain from eating these pretzel pralines. They’re all going into gift packages soon. I only ate a couple of pieces to make sure they were good. Maybe three or four. You should make some and eat more, though, because they’re quite tasty!
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
- 4 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 6 cups of sourdough pretzel nuggets (or broken-up pieces of sourdough pretzels)
Butter a large cookie sheet well and set it aside on a heatproof surface. (Note: Don’t do what I did and assume that you can just line a pan with waxed paper, because the waxed paper will stick to the bottom of the caramel-coated pretzels and you’ll waste a good 15 minutes peeling all the bits of paper off the candy at the end.)
In a large stockpot, begin melting the butter over medium heat. Combine the salt and sugar, then add to the melting butter. Add the vanilla. Stir constantly, watching carefully, over medium heat with a wooden spoon.
After a couple of minutes, the sugar mixture will begin to melt and the sugar will caramelize. Once the mixture is smooth and no longer grainy, add the pretzels and quickly stir to coat the pieces evenly. If you leave the pot on the heat too long the sugar will burn, but if you remove it from the heat the mixture will quickly harden and it’ll be nearly impossible to stir, as I learned the hard way. So keep it on the burner but work quickly.
Once the pieces are all coated, dump the caramel-covered pretzel pieces out onto the buttered cookie sheet. Using the spoon, quickly spread the pieces out in a single layer. They’ll cool fast. If you want, you could drizzle a little melted dark or white chocolate over the cookie sheet at this point. Then you can break them up into bite-size pieces and package them to give away as gifts.
Or you can keep them all for yourself. I won’t tell.