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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nothing Says Love in Philly like a Soft Pretzel

Philadelphians considered soft pretzels to be one of the four major food groups - alongside cheesesteaks, water ice, and hoagies. Anywhere you go in Philly you can pick up some version of a soft pretzel, and mustard to smear your pretzel with (yellow or spicy) or cheeses to dip it in.  The options for what you put on your pretzel are almost as vast as the recipes and techniques used to make the pretzels.

As you can imagine then, there are many different versions of a Philly soft pretzel. And just like the debate around "who makes the best cheesesteak," Philadelphians usually have their favorite pretzel factory or purveyor. Some pretzels are dense and chewy, some are soft and bread-like, and some have a crunchy exterior. Some are very salty and others may appear kind of wet. They can be shaped into a traditional German twist, nuggets, a figure-eight, or braided sticks. We here at Jonny Sparks Lounge make ours into heart shapes for Valentine's Day as pictured below. Some bakeries and delis make pretzel dough into rolls for sandwiches. And having a pretzel for breakfast is a legitimate option that no one would question here in the City of Brother Love.
JSL Heart Shaped Pretzels for Valentine's Day

What is harder to come by is the hot-from-the-oven goodness that makes a soft pretzel simply irresistible. So you can bet that when we make pretzels at home, they are devoured within minutes! Hot, soft, starchy bread filling inside a crisp and salty exterior...that is the description of a great soft pretzel in our humble opinion.

Making soft pretzels at home is easy, fun to do with kids or groups of adults, and instantly gratifying. To the left we've pictured some  cheese pretzels we recently made. The soft cheese-filled pretzel bites are on the left of the tray (and pictured below). In the center are three cheese crusted pretzels in a traditional German twist shape. And on the right is our favorite mustard...Sir Kensington's Spicy Mustard. 

No matter whether you decide to add cheese or not, and regardless of what shape you choose to make your pretzels, the following recipe and instructions make the crispy-outside-fluffy-inside pretzels of our dreams. If you prefer the slightly sweet and buttery Auntie Anne's pretzel, we highly recommend checking out this blog entry from Sally's Baking Addiction. The video tutorials on shaping and making the pretzels are really helpful too.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water (lukewarm)
  • 1 packet active dry or instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 and ¾  - 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling atop the pretzels
  • Shredded cheese like parmesan or manchego for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • Soft cheese like Alouette for stuffing pretzels (optional)
  • Mustard or Cheese Whiz to add when served (optional)


ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS: BAKING SODA BATH


  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 9 cups water
Pretzel dough in the baking soda bath before baking


Soft herbed cheese inside pretzel dough

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    • Whisk the yeast into warm water. Allow to sit for 1 minute. 
    • Whisk in salt. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon (or dough hook attached to stand mixer) until dough is thick. Add 3/4  to 1 1/2  additional cups of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
    • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cover lightly with a plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes. 
    • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
    • With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1/3 cup sections.
    • For a traditional German twist, roll the dough into a 20-22 inch rope. Alter length depending on your preferred shape and size. Take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.
    • Bring baking soda and 9 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drop 1-2 pretzels into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Any more than that and your pretzels will have a metallic taste. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, lift the pretzel out of the water and allow as much of the excess water to drip off. 
    • OPTIONAL - if you're making filled pretzel nuggets, flatten the dough as shown here. Place about a Tbsp of cheese in the center leaving a full dough border around the cheese. Press ends  of dough together to fully wrap the cheese inside (like you would with a wonton, calzone or stromboli).
    • At this stage, if you're adding shredded cheese to the outside, press dough into cheese and then place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Otherwise, place pretzel onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. 
    • Repeat with remaining pretzels.
    • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
    • Remove from the oven and serve warm. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days (they lose a little softness).


      As we mentioned earlier, at our house these hot and delicious pretzels will be gone the minute they hit the table. However, if you're making extra or you have more self control than we do, pretzels freeze well, up to about 2 months. To reheat, bake frozen pretzels at 350°F for 20 minutes or until warmed through or microwave until warm. The prepared pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to one day or frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerated dough can be shaped into pretzels while still cold, but allow some extra time for the pretzels to puff up before the baking soda bath and baking.

      Tuesday, February 6, 2018

      Nutella Stuffed Skillet Cookie is as Good as it Sounds

      The gooey version of the cookie
      Sometimes you find joy in an unexpected place. This is one of those times. What started out as a quest to use up a bunch of Nutella ended with the discovery of our new favorite cookie!

      I don't make that comment lightly. This truly is the new favorite cookie of everyone who tried it. Even people who don't love chocolate or chocolate chip cookies. Yes - some people who don't like chocolate are my friends.

      Anyway, do yourself a favor and gather up the ingredients and start baking this recipe. Credit goes to cafedelites.com for the basis of this chocolate cookie concoction. Their version is low calorie so check them out if you need a guilt-free cookie.

      Be aware of your oven temperature and cooking time. We made this recipe at two different places. The oven ran much hotter at mom's house, resulting in a more solid cookie pictured below. When baked in our oven, the center stayed molten and added a lovely and fun ooey-gooey quality like the picture at top.

      The firm-centered version of the cookie 


      Pictured here is how the cookie gets assembled. Don't worry if it looks like you don't have enough dough - it spreads as it bakes to fill the cast iron pan. Use parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan for easy serving. Spread half the dough on the parchment as wide as you can while keeping the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to center the Nutella filling and keep it about an inch from the edge of the bottom layer, like the sauce on a pizza. That way, when you add the top layer of dough, you can press to seal the edges and keep the filling from oozing out while it cooks.

      Ingredients

      1/2 cup butter softened
      1/2 cup light brown sugar
      1/3 cup sugar
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1 egg
      1 cup flour
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1/3 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
      1/3 cup Nutella, melted

      Instructions


      1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9" cast iron skillet with baking/parchment paper and set aside.
      2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla, and whisk until light and creamy. Add the egg and whisk again until combined. 
      3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and then add the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Fold in half the chocolate chips and spoon 1/2 the cookie dough onto the pan.
      4. Melt the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds until it becomes thinner in consistency.
      5. Pour the Nutella over the cookie dough in the skillet evenly to 1-inch of the edges. Top with remaining cookie dough, smoothing the layer with the back of a metal spoon (and your fingers - which are delicious to lick). Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
      6. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes for a gooey cookie, or cover after 20 minutes with foil and bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes for a 'set' cookie. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

      Wednesday, January 31, 2018

      Bacon Wrapped, Cheese-Filled Meatballs for the Big Game

      We love bacon, just like Oprah loves bread and with the same passion of Philadelphians who love their sports teams.  Convenient that we share this recipe in time for the Eagles appearance at Super Bowl LII. Whether you're hosting the big game or bringing a shared plate to a tailgate, we highly recommend these amazing meatballs to satisfy a hungry, meat-eating crowd.

      This recipe was adapted from several sources. We started with our famous meatball recipe and opted for ground chicken, because we were serving them as an appetizer to a beef main course. A recipe from bakeatmidnite.com was also close to the finished product we served at Jonny Sparks Lounge. Because they helped us out with that recipe, and because our hungry crowd ate all the meatballs as soon as they came out of the oven and we have no pictures, the below image is courtesy of their blog.

      The recommendation to cut the bacon in half hinges on the size of your meatballs. If you want these to be bite sized, you'll want to adjust the length of the bacon down. You'll also need to adjust the size of the cheese accordingly. Ours were served with a fork and knife - a hearty appetizer! Also note that we served this recipe with a BBQ dinner, so we added our favorite BBQ dipping sauce. We like Heinz thick and sweet for this dish, but this is not the column to debate the merits of Memphis versus Kansas City versus Tennessee BBQ.

      As outlined below, start with the meatballs first, then work with the additional ingredients, and finally assemble and bake according to the instructions.

      www.bakeatmidnite.com provided the inspiration for our dish
      Meatballs a la Spark
      INGREDIENTS:
      1 pound ground chicken mixture
      ½ cup bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
      3 Tbsp. grated cheese (I use Parmesan)
      1 Tbsp dried parsley
      ¼ cup milk
      1 egg
      1 ½ tsp salt
      ¼ tsp pepper
      ¼ tsp garlic powder
      ¼ tsp onion powder
      1 Tbsp sugar

      Make Mine Cheese Filled and Wrapped in Bacon
      INGREDIENTS:
      8 pieces of thick cut bacon, cut in half
      8 mini mozzarella balls - BelGioioso snacking cheese is the PERFECT size
      8 skinny wood skewers
      BBQ sauce for dipping

      PREPARATION: 
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
      2. Line a cookie tray (with sides - to prevent grease dripping off the pan) with aluminum foil (makes for an easier clean up) and set aside
      3. Make the meatballs by combining those ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients together well by hand. Grab a palm-sized bit of meat - about 1/8th of the mixture, form it into a ball around one piece of mozzarella cheese. Set aside and repeat.
      4. Wrap your meatball in on piece of bacon. Then turn it 90 degrees and wrap with a second piece of bacon. When you cut the bacon in half it should have made the perfect length to just overlap at the top of the meatball. Align your overlaps, run the skewer through to secure those loose ends, and place the finished meatballs side by side onto the lined tray
      5. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the bacon is nicely browned and starting to crisp. Remove from foil to cool on a paper towel lined plate.  
      6. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce, plated with a fork and knife, and accept the raves of your guests.

      Wednesday, January 24, 2018

      Harvest Seasonal Grill

      Lettuce Wraps

      For lunch or dinner, Harvest Seasonal Grill is one of our favorite go-to restaurant options. We've enjoyed meals at three of their five Pennsylvania locations, and I have to say the staff at their Radnor location makes it our favorite Harvest.

      Every server I've ever had at Radnor was engaging, knowledgable and authentically friendly. Their recommendations have led us to participate in special menu nights like their bourbon pairing, and to try appetizers like those pictured here.

      First we shared Thai Sesame Beef Lettuce Wraps.  The Bibb lettuce was a good size to create a pocket for pickled carrots, daikon radish, edamame, and some very mild and crunchy sriracha salted peanuts. The beef was very tender and didn't really need the sweet & sour dipping sauce, in our opinion.

      Stuffed Poblano
      The real standout appetizer was a special when we visited last weekend. A stuffed poblano pepper with queso fresco walnut sauce was very special indeed for its presentation, its flavor combinations and the overall uniqueness of the offering.

      You can see that the pepper was batter fried. What you can't see (because we ate it too fast to get a nice picture!) is the delectable filling of short ribs and apples. The tender, shredded beef coupled with equally tender, warm apples offered a sweetness that meshed well with the mild heat of the pepper they filled. A nutty-cheesy sauce married it all together with a sweet/tart snap of pomegranate seeds. I don't know how the chef thought through all of these flavors, but I do know he's a genius!

      If you're looking for a lunch or dinner recommendation - try your local Harvest Seasonal Grill. Aside from the creativity of the menu, their motto is "know your farmer, know your food." Ingredients are sourced from a large roster of local farmers. Many of the dishes even come in at under 500 calories and are clearly marked on the menu so you can make smart choices without feeling deprived. Check them out if you haven't already. And call us if you need a dinner companion!!

      Thursday, January 18, 2018

      Sriracha and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

      Did you ever read that "Parade" magazine in the local Sunday newspaper? Well, I still do. Why do I even get a newspaper? Aside from the fact that the coupons more than pay for my annual subscriptions, I feel comforted holding a newspaper.  My dad and grandfather both worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the now defunct Philadelphia Bulletin. So despite the on-line availability of both news AND coupons, I just like getting and reading "the paper."

      Another bonus when you get the paper - every few weeks there is a stellar recipe like this one from "Parade" magazine. Grilled cheese and tomato soup? Talk about comfort! The recipes for both appeared in a recent publication, just in time to warm cold hands and fill tummies that are hungry from sledding or shoveling snow.

      We made this on a weeknight so we went the semi-homemade route with the soup. Starting with a can of Progresso tomato and basil soup, we added about a 1/4 cup of cream and 1/2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar to smooth out and add bottom to their already pretty darn good soup. But we went the full monty with the grilled cheese! Check out the recipe below including our notations. We'll add the soup recipe when we have a chance to test it out first.

      INGREDIENTS FOR 3 SANDWICHES:

      1 Tbsp butter, plus 2 Tbsp additional butter for grilling the sandwiches
      1 chopped yellow onion
      6 slices of sourdough bread (or use your favorite white bread)
      Sriracha sauce to taste
      2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

      DIRECTIONS:


      1. Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat and melt 1 Tbsp butter in the pan. Add chopped onion and cook until it begins to brown but not crisp, stirring occasionally to keep it from burning, until fully caramelized, about 15 minutes depending on the heat and your pan. Deglaze the pan by adding 1/4 cup of water and stirring another 15 - 20 minutes while it boils down. It's done when all the water is absorbed and onions are soft. Feel free to add more water throughout the deglazing process to get the brown, soft caramelized onions we're after here. Set onions aside.
      2. Make sandwiches by spreading one side of 3 bread slices with sriracha to your liking. Spread caramelized onions on one side of the other 3 slices of bread. Top the caramelized onion slices with equal portions of the cheddar cheese. Place sriracha slices, sriracha-side in, on top of the cheddar and onion slices. 
      3. Wipe out the pan you used to heat the onions. Heat 2 Tbsp butter on medium-high in the pan and then place the sandwiches into the melted butter. Cook 2 - 3 minutes a side until golden brown. 
      4. Serve along side tomato soup.

      Did You Pretend Snow was Ice Cream as a Kid?

      I don't know about you, but on snow days as a kid, I would pretend the yard was covered in vanilla ice cream instead of snow. It was a fantastic, childish fantasy that I haven't quite shaken as an adult.

      Come on - how great would it be if you woke up to a world covered in edible, creamy delight? The snowball fights would be delicious!!! Well since that doesn't really happen, we decided to make vanilla milk gelato the night before a recent snowstorm and eat it "après-shoveling" (there isn't really an "après-ski" opportunity around these parts).

      For the record, I love ice cream. I also love gelato, sorbet, sherbet, and almost any frozen dessert. No surprise then that we have  a supply of pint-sized containers on hand and TWO ice cream machines here at JSL. The Cuisinart model pictured is automatic and free-standing. It works great! We also have the KitchenAid stand mixer attachment that works for basic and thinner frozen treats. Let us know if you have any questions about these two machines. I've used them a lot and have a few tips, tricks and preferences for each.

      Having just visited Italy, I'm currently favoring milk-based gelato over U.S. cream-based ice cream. The main difference between the two is just that, mostly milk-versus-mostly heavy cream. Check out the recipe here.

      INGREDIENTS:

      4 large egg yolks
      3/4 cup granulated sugar
      2 cups whole milk
      1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      1 cup heavy cream

      DIRECTIONS:


      1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
      2. Place the milk, vanilla bean, scraped seeds from the vanilla bean, and vanilla extract into a saucepan over medium heat. As it forms small bubbles and nears a boil, remove from heat and slowly whisk in the egg/sugar mixture.
      3. Return the pot to the heat and stir approximately 3 - 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
      4. Remove from heat, discard vanilla bean.
      5. Stir in cream and cool, overnight if possible.
      6. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker. Follow the instructions for the ice cream maker to create a scoopable frozen gelato mixture. If not frozen to your liking, place in the freezer and remember to chill your ice cream tub longer before you start the process (24 - 48 hours is usually best).













      Friday, January 12, 2018

      A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

      Love is in the air. Valentine's Day grows near. The supermarkets have conversation hearts and plush Cupid dolls on display, and it is cold enough here in Philadelphia that you want to cuddle with someone for warmth.

      Here is a very romantic rose colored cocktail to serve up to your cuddle buddy...or to simply do something nice for yourself. Each ingredient says "love" with its quality and specificity of flavors. Put in a little effort and enjoy the outpouring of affection that results.

      We suggest that you do not make substitutions with the vermouth, aperitif or bitters. Here at JSL we experimented with other brands and flavors...since it was cold out and we didn't want to go to the store to find the called-for brands.


      Cocchi Rosa
      Cocchi Rosa for example is produced with a base of red wines of Piedmont to which herbs and spices extracts are added, in particular gentian, cinchona, citrus zests and rose petals. The color and the flavor is not like anything else.

      Noilly Prat dry vermouth also has distinct flavor characteristics. According to their website, it is slightly oaked with herbal aromas, floral notes and chamomile. Made with dry white wines the finished product has a slightly bitter finish with a spicy profile different than the traditional Martini and Rossi dry vermouth we pick up locally. We had to drive to a neighboring state to get Noilly Prat...and it was worth it! We also used the Noilly Prat in a traditional vodka martini and noted some differences. Very pleasing!

      Lastly, we experimented with the bitters in brand, flavor and quantity. Although this recipe calls for three dashes, we preferred just one dash of the Peychaud's. Maybe our dash is a little to vigorous? Hard to tell but the proof was in the finished product. 

      Unfortunately we couldn't find little rosebuds for garnish, but there is still time before Valentine's Day. Hopefully our experience helps you to explore and enjoy a new cocktail with some extraordinary ingredients. Cheers!

      INGREDIENTS:

      1 1/2 oz. good vodka (we like Chopin)
      3/4 oz. Noilly Prat dry vermouth
      1/2 oz. Cocchi Rosa aperitif
      1/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
      3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
      Lemon Peel Twist
      and 3 tiny pink rose buds for garnish

      DIRECTIONS:

      1. Stir the vodka, vermouth, apertif, liquer and bitters with ice
      2. Strain into a coupe or martini glass
      3. Twist lemon peel over the drink and then discard


      Saturday, January 6, 2018

      Potato Parmesan Waffles

      Potato Parmesan Waffles courtesy of
      Rachael Ray Magazine
      Just in time for your weekend brunch menu, today we're sharing a potato waffle recipe. If you've ever made latkes you already know about potato pancakes, but for us a potato waffle was new.

      Like many latke recipes, this dish uses grated potatoes. I've always liked the texture of grated potato pancakes. Now think about cooking them on your waffle iron. It's a fun new presentation that enhances the cross-hatch texture.

      The potato gets nicely brown and crispy while still retaining that warm and fluffy interior that makes other potato dishes like french fries so irresistible.

      This is a hearty dish that quickly absorbs runny eggs. I think it would also be great under creamed chipped beef or other toppings that people traditionally sop up with toast.

      Grab some potatoes and get sizzling with this comfort food.



      INGREDIENTS FOR 4 WAFFLES:

      1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
      1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
      5 Tbsp butter, melted
      1 large shallot

      INSTRUCTIONS:


      1. Warm up your waffle maker. Coat with cooking spray.
      2. Peel and grate potatoes. Squeeze dry in several paper towels or a dish towel. This will throw off a lot of moisture so keep squeezing! 
      3. Mix grated potatoes, cheese, butter and shallot together in a bowl.
      4. Spread a quarter of the mixture onto the waffle maker for each waffle. 
      5. Cook (on high heat if you have a heat setting) until golden and crispy...about 8 minutes.
      6. Top with eggs, bacon, and whatever else you like and enjoy!

      Thursday, December 28, 2017

      Curds and Whey: Experiment in Making Ricotta Cheese

      Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating curds and whey. After a quick experiment with homemade ricotta, we have quite a bit more insight and dare I say questions about the story of Miss Muffet.

      First - why would anyone eat curds and whey? As the process of making homemade ricotta cheese taught us, the curds are the part of the cheese you think of as ricotta. It's the small, tight, clumps of cheese that result from separating the dairy fat and liquids out. So yes, we eat curds but who wants to drink wet cheese liquid?

      Second - a little on-line research tells us that that Miss Muffet's dad was an entomologist and that the spider that frightened his daughter was one of his lab subjects. Based on ratio of curds-to-whey in our ricotta experience, we suspect he was a dairy farmer. How else would one come to face the waste involved in separating the curds from the whey and decide to eat both?

      There is a lot of waste in turning milk into ricotta cheese, unless you decide to drink the whey, which we did not. However, it is a super fast and fun experiment that is perfect for a cold winter day when it's too dangerous to spend time outdoors. In only about eight minutes we converted 2-cups of whole milk into a half cup of yummy cheese. Here's the process for you to enjoy on your next snow day, rainy day, or day of general curiosity.

      Ingredients to make 1/2 cup of ricotta:

      2 cups whole milk (we used goat milk which retained its tartness in the final product)
      1/4 tsp salt
      2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar

      Instructions:


      1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk and salt. Heat over medium to medium-high heat, scraping and stirring to avoid any burned milk on the bottom of the pan.
      2. When the milk simmers or reaches about 180°F on a candy/jam thermometer, add the vinegar and reduce heat to low. Continue stirring about two minutes and watch as the curds rise to the top of the liquid whey layer.
      3. Remove from heat and spoon (don't pour!) the curds into a sieve lined with a double layer of paper towels or cheese cloth. Drain at least five minutes or until the liquid has all seeped out.
      4. Eat warm or chill to serve later.

      Monday, December 18, 2017

      Cookie Swap: Crispy, Crunchy, Cookie Brittle


      The age old debate over crispy versus chewy chocolate chip cookies just received ammunition. Cookie Brittle adds validity to the crispy camp in our humble opinion. This recipe removes all the leavening agents in favor of flavor and crunch. 

      You'll absolutely love baking this cooking for your holiday cookie swap if you are "challenged" in the creativity department - there is no decorating, no cookie cutters to maneuver, no shaping even! Just bake, break and eat. These also package up and transport really well, so be sure to make enough to share.

      Recipe courtesy of Food52.com and William Morrow Cookbooks


      INGREDIENTS:

      3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
      1 cup light brown or turbinado sugar
      2 tsp pure vanilla extract
      1 tsp fine sea salt
      2 cups all-purpose flour
      3/4 cup chocolate chips (your choice of bittersweet or semisweet)
      3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts or pretzels (optional)

      DIRECTIONS:

      1. Heat oven to 350°F and place rack in the center. Line a 12x17 baking sheet with baking parchment paper.
      2. Combine butter and sugar and melt together in microwave (in 30 second bursts, stirring in between) or in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the mixture until the butter is completely melted.
      3. Let cool for two minutes and continue to whisk until the mixture is thickened and smooth and appears well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and salt until well combined. Add the flour and stir until no streaks of flour remain.
      4. If you're adding nuts or pretzels, stir in half of these mix-ins at this stage.
      5. Scrape the dough onto the lined baking sheet. Pat it into a very thin and even layer with your hands. As you keep patting, encourage the dough toward the edges until it fills the baking sheet. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
      6. Sprinkle chocolate chips and remaining mix-ins over the dough and lightly press them down with your hands.
      7. Bake until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch...about 21- 24 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet every 7 or 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the brittle cool completely in the baking sheet.
      8. Lift the whole slab up in one piece using the parchment paper. Break into random 3 inch pieces, trying to avoid smudging the chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.