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Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Have you ever met a celebrity? If so, did you totally flip out? When I was 17, I met Nick Carter (yes, from the Backstreet Boys). There was a line of girls waiting to meet him, and every single one of them was borderline hysterical. Some of them were even in tears. I was with my friend, who, by the time we made it to the front of the line, was basically trembling. When it was our turn, I stepped up, introduced myself and shook his hand. He seemed a little surprised but shook back. My friend, meanwhile, couldn’t even spell her name for him to sign her shirt. As we got ready to leave, he hugged each of us and whispered to me, “Thank you for introducing yourself to me like I’m just any other person. I’m not sure anyone has ever done that.” What he didn’t know was that, internally, I was just like all those other girls, but with my friend freaking out, I figured one of us needed to be able to talk to him.

I’ve met a few famous (to me, and likely to all of you) people since then, and I always try to reserve my squealing and excitement until after it’s over. It’s not so hard to do when it’s just one person. Imagine how I felt, though, when I saw the list of attendees for Big Summer Potluck last year. I was going to be surrounded by famous people! I told myself it would be fine. After all, they all had blogs before writing cookbooks. No big deal, right? While waiting on the bus the first morning, I was in a lobby full of people. Most of us were chatting and introducing ourselves to people we hadn’t met the night before and everything was going well. I was insanely nervous, probably more than I let on, but I was starting to feel more comfortable. Someone walked up and noticed that we all had our food (for the potluck) with us. She asked me if we were supposed to bring it, and I told her yes because the bus wouldn’t be coming back to the hotel until that night. She went to grab her dish, and I walked out to the bus. A couple minutes later, when it was time to take off, I heard someone say something like “We’re waiting on Deb. She had to go grab the food from her room.” It was at that moment that I realized I had been talking to Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I’m not going to lie, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t recognize her because, as nervous as I was, I’m quite certain I would’ve gone all fangirl and freaked her out. I texted Eric from the bus “OMG I talked to Deb from Smitten Kitchen and didn’t even know it.” So apparently I’m cool around boy band members but not around big-time bloggers/cookbook authors. Go figure. After tasting a couple recipes from her book, I’m not sure I could meet her now and refrain from hugging her right away and telling her how awesome she is.

I saw a picture of the title of this recipe before I even got the book, and I pretty much thought about them continuously after that. I finally got the chance to make them with my friend Amanda while she and her husband were visiting last week. These pretzels are made using a genius method that only requires the brioche to rise once. Brioche is my favorite bread (it’s so rich and buttery!), and of course adding chocolate to it makes it even better. These are in the breakfast section of the book, and I kind of love Deb for putting them there. That means it’s perfectly acceptable for me to make these on a lazy weekend morning and call it breakfast. I mean, if doughnuts are a breakfast food, why not pretzels? The process may seem complicated, but I assure you it’s far from it. I only wish I had pearl sugar to sprinkle on at the end. I’m ordering some so that I can use it next time I make these (which will be as soon as that sugar gets here).

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 pretzels

Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels


For the dough:
⅓ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup well-chopped chocolate or miniature chocolate chips
For the glaze:
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
Coarse or pearl sugar, for finishing


To make the brioche, whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs and yeast mixture, mixing until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes. (My mixer had a really hard time with this part, but I think it was just a fluke.) Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing well between each addition. Swap to the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough on low speed until it's silky and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until it's spread evenly throughout the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours, until almost doubled. If you'd like, you can rest the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before proceeding. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature and let it rise before moving on.

To make the pretzels, line two baking sheets with parchment or a nonstick baking mat and heat oven to 350º. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces (about 93 grams each, if you're weighing). Working with one piece at a time, roll each ball into an 18-inch long rope about ½-inch thick. This dough is very buttery and you likely won't need a floured surface. However, if you notice your dough sticking to your work area, simply dust it with a little flour. Draw the ends of the rope together to make a circle. Grab each side of the rope about 2 inches from the ends and twist the ends together - a full twist, so that the right side of the rope ends up back on the right side - to close the circle. Fold the twist down into the circle, pressing the loose ends of the rope on each side of the center (five and seven o'clock) of the rope. Repeat with the remaining dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water and salt. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheets and brush with glaze. Let them rest for about 15 minutes. They'll rise slightly during this time.

To finish, brush the pretzels once more with the glaze. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 12 minutes, until puffed and lightly bronzed. Cool slightly (yeah right) on a cooling rack before serving.


  • Tracey

    I *just* made these this week and oh my word, they are beyond amazing!! Yours look absolutely perfect, pearl sugar or no pearl sugar :) I would totally freak out too if I met Deb, she’s a rock star.

  • Krystal R.

    What a great picture of Eric holding a beautiful and delicious pretzel!! I would have gone fangirl crazy and starting bowing my hands to her and say “I’m not worthy”…what a lucky girl you are to have talked to Deb!!!

  • Kristin

    I’ve been dying for those since I got the cookbook, too. Yours look beautiful! And your photos are just gorgeous, too!

  • Carrie Henderson Caumont

    Those look and sound amazing! I might have to come over the next time you make these :-)

  • ErinsFoodFiles

    I know how you feel internally freaking out when meeting celebs, but externally playing it cool. Being that we live in Nashville, I have seen celebrities & artists around town many times. It’s such a cool city because for the most part, people leave them alone. One Saturday we were at a coffee shop and Nathan was ordering and holding Elliott in his infant seat (he was about 10 weeks old) while I found us a table. Later on I spotted Joy Williams from the Civil Wars with her husband and newborn as well. I pointed her out to Nathan, and he was like “Oh, that’s who that is? She pointed at Elliott when she walked in and said ‘Oh cute baby!’” Imagine my freaking out that JOY FROM THE CIVIL WARS SAID MY BABY WAS CUTE. Flash forward about 6 days later we were in the same neighborhood at a burger restaurant. We were already seated and eating, and they walk in the door to pick up a carryout meal. They actually recognized us from the coffee shop and came up to talk to us. (!!!!) I HAD A 5 MIN CONVERSATION WITH JOY FROM THE CIVIL WARS. She asked me questions about babies! (Elliott is a few weeks older than her son.) I was like “”.

    Anyways… Sorry to go off on a tangent. I originally opened this from my Google Reader before even reading it because I wanted to comment how freaking delicious this looked and sounded! Chocolate? Brioche? Pretzel!? YUM!

    • Courtney

      I remember seeing your Instagram post or something about bumping into her at a coffee shop but had no idea about seeing them again a few days later. That is seriously so awesome! I would have flipped…and probably asked her to hold my baby for a picture haha.

  • Melissa Hasenmayer

    Chocolate chips? Sign me up! These look great.

  • Natasha Steinberg

    I met Seth Green and was not nervous at all, but I think I would totally be nervous meeting Deb, or Joy! I’m not sure why, but I totally get it!. Also, gimme these pretzels nowwwww.

  • annieseats

    I would definitely have an internal freak out/external shut down if I met Deb in person. I’d put this on par with my reaction to possibly meeting Daniel Craig, Britney Spears, or Grant Achatz. And who knows how any of them would feel to be put in a category all together but what can I say? I love what I love :)

    Also, these pretzels look fab.

  • Kocinera

    What a cute story! And those pretzels look gorgeous. Brioche is already awesome, but with chocolate?? Amazing!

  • Janel G

    This is the perfect recipe to try tomorrow, especially if the kids end up with a snow day! I love chocolate chip bagels, so I’m positive I’ll love these too.

  • Samantha Kathrein

    These look great! Do you think I could do it with just mixing and kneading by hand? I’m moving around and don’t have access to a mixer…

    • Courtney

      It might be difficult, but it can be done. I actually had to do quite a bit of it by hand when I made these because my mixer just couldn’t handle the dough. The hardest part will be getting the butter incorporated because it’s greasy and will make your hands slippery.

  • Averie Cooks

    I’ve seen that recipe in her cookbook and have wanted to make it…and omg you’re tempting me! Gorgeous photography of a gorgeous hunk ‘o brioche!

  • Courtney

    I made it with a bigger bag and some craft scissors, but I bet you could find something similar on Etsy. I always have luck finding cute party supplies there.