One of my favorite pastimes when I travel is to take long walks around a city and find their food markets and specialty food shops. My daughter and I visited Germany in September and we were overwhelmed by the confections and pastries we found everywhere we visited. One of our favorites was the nougat pretzels (Nougatbrezel) we found in Cologne. We both agreed that they are one of the most delicious things we had on our entire trip. Imagine a large pretzel shaped pastry filled with chocolate and covered in nougat and toasted almonds. We found these amazingly scrumptious pastries at Merzenich, a small chain of bakeries all around the city and you can’t miss them if you are out for a stroll. If you visit Cologne look for a shop within several blocks of the Kohlner Dom, Cologne’s most famous landmark.
I’m determined to at least come close to making nougat pretzels like we found in Cologne. I’m sure they are made with a yeast dough but the filling and nougat covered tops are a mystery. Googling them didn’t bring up a single recipe suggestion so I went out on my own and found this recipe for chocolate-cinnamon twists, Russian “Sladkay Bulochka” at Cooking Melangery. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe when I made these sweet buns and they are delicious just this way. But I see lots of pretzel potential here and will work on making some changes.
It took a few tries to get the cut side of the filled dough to fully show, but once I got the hang of it…no problem. The original recipe has only a dusting of powdered sugar on top but I wanted to go for it and try a powdered sugar glaze and toasted almonds. I’m on the right track but next time will make something that is a little more nougat-like that the almonds stick to better. I added the almonds after baking but now as I look closely at the photos I think they were put on before baking. This is a real mystery here but I’m determined to solve it. If anyone has seen these pretzels before and has any idea how to make them I surely would appreciate the info.
Merzenich has hundreds of these pretzels in their shop, case after case and racks of them hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately we bought only two so they disappeared before we could completely analyze them. The only negative to our wonderful river cruise is that at the end of the day we sail on to the next city. There is no going back for seconds.
Not in the mood for a nougat pretzel? Why not try a jelly doughnut or 2?
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup warm milk (110 degrees)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2-3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm milk and let it stand for about 5 minutes.until foamy. Whisk the cooled melted butter and egg yolk into the yeast mixture. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast-egg mixture and mix on low speed until smooth, soft and slightly sticky, about 2-3 minutes. Butter a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until smooth. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl combine the filling ingredients. Set aside.
- After rising divide the dough into 8 equal parts. On a well floured surface, roll out each dough ball to a 6? circle. With a brush spread the filling mixture on the dough, covering all of the surface in a thin layer. Roll into a log and cut lengthways in half. Take the 2 parts and twist together and form into a round. Be sure the cut side is up and visible.. Repeat with all dough balls. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment baking paper. Cover with a cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.
- Brush with the remaining cinnamon-butter mix and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375°F for around 12-15 minutes until nicely browned. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle on a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkle with toasted almonds.