Caramel apple stuffed pretzel rolls are a super indulgent sweet and salty treat. Gluten free and vegan, nom nom, so all can enjoy.
I used to work in the field of public history, which was super fun most of the time. I worked at two different historic sites, both rumored to be haunted. Halloween was especially enjoyable, because you get to work up the oh-there-might-be-ghosts-here angle, even if you are a non believer. Folks just love bein’ spooked.
At one of the locations, we set up whole haunted carnival with a bouncy house and free treats and discount tours and stuff. The first year I worked there, I was in charge of the caramel apple station. I spent the whole night in the historic kitchen, bent over the smokey fireplace, dipping apple after apple. It was sticky and messy, but also fun because of how excited all the kiddos were.
I had a long bath that night, soaking out the sugar and caramel and smoke from my skin. The pants I’d donned that night were crusted over and had to be thrown out, and I’ve not made caramel apples since then.
This recipe far less messy than that, and no dipping or stabbing apples with stubborn chopsticks. I’m not going to lie to you and say there’s no mess at all, but you definitely have more control over said mess.
All you do is make up a basic pretzel dough and roll that baby out. Prep some apples with sugar and cinnamon and then they them over top of the dough. Roll it up nice and tight, give it a pretzel bath (for the trademark pretzel crust) and then bake it up. While it’s baking, you make a simple caramel sauce — just sugar and coconut milk. It’s a bit thinner than regular caramel sauce, which means it’s less tooth sticky and also easier to clean up after.
Drizzle that caramel over the baked pretzels, slice them up, and there ya go. It’s a cross between a sticky bun and pretzel and a Swedish coffee cake ring. You do have to use a fork (bummer!), but it’s definitely worth it.
Caramel Apple Stuffed Soft Pretzel Rolls (vegan + gluten free!)
- 1 1/4 cup warm water or almond milk***
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 cup GF flour
dough and filling
- 3 GF cups flour
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup aquafaba
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large apples (about 1 1/2 lbs)
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- coarse kosher salt
- 8 cups of water
- 1 heaping cup baking soda
caramel and topping
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 apples (about 1 lb)
- generous handful of nuts
***you want to use either dechlorinated water (made by boiling 20 min, and then cooling) or bottled water. If you have well water you can skip this step. But municipal water contains low levels of chlorine, which can prevent yeast from rising.
- Combine all ingredients from the starter, gently stirring together. Cover and allow to rise 1 hour
- As soon as you get the starter going, you’ll want to start on the filling, because that needs to sit an hour as well. This will allow the apples to soften enough so they will yield to the dough without piercing it.
- Okay, so for the filling, peel all the apples and then chop them into thin matchsticks. Cover with lemon, sugar and cinnamon, toss to coat. Allow to sit, covered, for one hour.
- Stir the remaining flour, the coconut oil, the aquafaba, and the salt into the starter.
- Lay down some parchment paper. Roll the dough over the paper, into a 17×15 rectangle (about. doesn’t have to be perfect)
- Drain the apples, but reserve the liquid. Place the liquid in a little pan on the stove and allow to reduce to about half.
- Spread the apples over the dough, leaving about 2 1/2 – 3 inches at the top and about 1 inch at the bottom. Drizzle the reduced apple liquid over the apples.
- Carefully roll up the dough, then slice it in half crosswise, as shown.
- In a large, flat skillet, prep your pretzel water bath. Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil and add the baking soda
- Tear the parchment in half, allowing so that each half of the dough remains on parchment.
- Preheat oven to 425
- Using the parchment as a hammock, lower the ONE of the rolls into the water bath. Do not let it out of the parchment. If the water does not reach the top of the roll, carefully spoon the water over the dough. Allow the pretzel to sit in the bath for about 30 seconds, spooning the whole time. Then, using the parchment once again, lift the dough back out. Tilt the parchment lightly so that the excess water drains away. Repeat with second roll.
- Sprinkle coarse salt over top.
- Bake for 16 minutes. They won’t look as dark as regular pretzels, but if you let them go much longer, the dough with get dry and unpleasant.
- While it’s baking, prep the caramel. Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Once it looks like it’s about to boil over (at about the 8 minute mark) lower the heat to medium.
- Stir in the brown sugar. Cook, stirring continually, for about 10 minutes (don’t forget to keep an eye on the pretzel timer during this time! It’s okay to stop stirring to grab the pretzels out of the oven). After those ten minutes pass, continue to reduce the caramel for 10 more minutes, but you will only need to stir about once or twice during this time.
- Allow the pretzels to cool somewhat, then drizzle the caramel all over. Dice the two apples and sprinkle over the caramel. Crush the nuts and sprinkle them over too.
- Slice it all all, serve with love.