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Dorothy Dean presents: pretzel spider webs

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

These past few weeks I find myself breaking into song, belting out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year …”

I’m not singing about Christmas.

I’m singing about my favorite holiday: Halloween.

I prepare for it as you would for Christmas. I string lights. That is, black lights. I decorate the fireplace mantle – with skulls, webs and spiders. I watch “holiday” movies, such as “Carrie,” “The Shining,” “Halloween” and, my all-time fave, the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

I’ve always been a lover of all things scary. And that carries over into my baking, making gory treats that look like they’re straight off an operating table.

That’s what ultimately landed me a spot on the first season of Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship.” With six other bakers, I competed in a four-episode baking tournament for the grand prize of $25,000.

All the challenges and treats created were Halloween themed. I made a creepy crawly cupcake, cowboy costume cheesecake, bloody eyeball cake, filled intestine doughnuts, witch finger cookies and, lastly, a deep-fried cheesecake coffin. I dug my own grave with it because, unfortunately, it got me sent home. But I lasted three out of four episodes, so not too bad.

When I’m not baking on TV shows, I’m creating festive treats to encompass whatever holiday season it may be. And the easier the better. Like these candy coated pretzel spider webs.

Three ingredients make them scary-easy and perfect for your little goblins to help with. Pretzel sticks are coated in melted white candy coating, arranged and decorated as a spiderweb, and embellished with spider sprinkles.

The candy coating acts as glue, holding together the web and the “spiders” to it. When piping out the web, make sure it’s not too thin, or they’ll be very fragile. You want a good, sturdy thickness that still resembles webbing.

And if you can’t find spider shaped sprinkles, raisins, chocolate chips or mini candies can be used. You can also decorate the web with colored sprinkles, which should be done immediately after piping it out.

The trickiest part about this recipe is removing them from the baking sheet. Whether you’re using wax paper or a silicone mat, slowly detach them using a thin spatula.

And if they break, don’t worry, this sweet and salty treat is so hauntingly delicious, they’ll be devoured either way.

Pretzel Spiderwebs

10 ounces white almond bark

48 pretzel sticks

Spider sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with wax paper or silicone baking mat.

Place almond bark in microwave safe bowl and melt according to package directions. Stir until smooth.

Coat each pretzel by holding one end of pretzel stick and dipping it into candy coating. Shake and tap off excess coating and place on prepared baking sheet. Once all pretzel sticks are coated, let dry until set, about 15 minutes.

Once set, carefully remove sticks from baking sheet onto a plate. You’re going to assemble the six webs on the same baking sheet, so clean off nonstick liner, or replace with new one.

Remelt the leftover candy coating and pour into a piping bag fitted with a small tip (size 4 or 5) or zip-top bag with corner snipped. Set aside.

Arrange pretzels on the lined baking sheet in starburst arrangements of eight pretzels, placing the uncoated ends in the center. Pipe a generous dot of candy into the center of each pretzel group to bind them together. Then pipe three scalloped rings around the pretzels to create a web pattern. You want your lines a good even thickness so they aren’t super fragile. Decorate right away with candy spiders while the webs are still wet, as they’ll adhere as they dry.

Place baking sheet in refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until the webs are set. Carefully and slowly remove from liner and serve.

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