1½ cups warm (110 degrees) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 packet active dry yeast
22 ounces (about 4½ cups) all-purpose flour
¼ cup canola, vegetable or other neutral oil, plus extra for the pan
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cool water
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Edible gold leaf
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam.
Add the flour and ¼ cup of oil and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and allow to stand in a warm place and rise for 1 hour.
Once the dough has risen, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the oil.
In an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan over medium-high heat, combine 10 cups of water and the baking soda. Bring to a boil.
While the water heats, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a 24-inch rope. To form the pretzels, make each rope into a U-shape. Holding the ends of the rope, fold them downward and cross them over each other to create the classic pretzel shape. Gently press the ends of the ropes into the bottom of the "U." Arrange the finished pretzels on the prepared baking sheets.
Carefully, and working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, transfer the pretzels to the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds. Use a large flat spatula or slotted spoon to transfer the pretzels back to the baking sheet.
When all of the pretzels have been boiled, in a small cup whisk the egg yolk and cool water. Brush each pretzel with the yolk mixture, then sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Transfer the chocolate to a plastic bag, then use scissors to snip off one corner. Gently squeeze the bag to drizzle the chocolate over the cooled pretzels. After the chocolate has set, gild the pretzels with edible gold leaf according to package directions.
Nutrition values per serving: 470 calories, 17 g fat (5 g saturated), 72 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 10 g protein, 25 mg cholesterol, 960 mg sodium.
Chef Laura Frankel, Spertus Center for Jewish Learning & Culture, Chicago