Last year for Halloween I painstakingly chocolate-dipped about 50 tiny pretzel sticks and added chocolate chips for eyes and a mouth. They sure didn't last long at the kindergarten's Halloween party. This year I decided to make my own thick pretzel rods so they'd be much quicker to coat with chocolate. It's quite a process making your own pretzels; like bagels, you poach them before baking, but in a special solution. The result is a flavoursome crunchy stick. It's adapted from Serious Eats.

Makes 24
3 c flour
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c warm water
egg wash - 1 egg with 1 tbsp water
topping - 2 tbsp coarse sea salt

Poaching liquid:
1/2 c baking soda that's been baked (see first step)
8 cups water
1/4 c brown sugar

To decorate:
150g white chocolate
chocolate drops

First put the baking soda on an oven tray lined with foil. Bake at 120C for an hour then set aside.
In a small bowl mix 1/4 c of the water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand until it starts to foam. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix together until it forms are dough. Transfer to your bench and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean greased bowl and cover with cling film. Let rise for one hour.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Punch the dough down and divide into 24 pieces. Roll each one into ropes about 20cm long and 1-2cm round. Lay onto the baking trays and leave for 30 min to rise.
Preheat the oven to 160C. For the poaching liquid, boil the water in a large, wide saucepan. Add in the baked soda and sugar. The liquid will gently bubble up.
Drop the dough ropes into the poaching liquid for 15 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon and return to the baking trays. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for about 40-50 min until hardened and dark glossy brown. Switch the top and bottom trays halfway through. Bake for less time if you want a chewy pretzel.
Transfer your pretzels to a wire rack to cool completely. Then dip in melted white chocolate and add chocolate drops for the  eyes.