Prepare homemade caramel (or melt store-bought caramels). Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Allow homemade caramel to cool for about 15 minutes before dipping.
Dip Pretzel Rods in caramel. I use a spoon to scoop the sauce onto the pretzels and turn them as I go. Allow excess sauce to drip off and place the dipped pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet.
After the caramel sets and cools some of it may pool at the base of the pretzel, causing the bottom to be flat. Use your hands to mold the caramel back around the rod (or just roll the rod gently on the parchment paper to smooth it around).
Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, on half power, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
Pour the chocolate into a tall glass. Dip the caramel-coated pretzels in melted chocolate. You can use a spoon or spatula to help smooth the chocolate up and around if you need to.
Lay the dipped pretzels on a parchment lined sheet. While the chocolate is warm, you can sprinkle on a few light weight toppings or sprinkles, if desired.
Allow the chocolate to set up before eating or removing from parchment.
Pretzel Rods. Choose good, sturdy pretzel rods, like Snyder’s brand, or Clancy’s from Aldi. Avoid Walmart and Rold Gold; they break too easily.Chocolate: If you're making just one batch, use high quality chocolate, as not all chocolate melts well. I prefer Ghirardelli baking chocolate bars from the baking aisle. Don't use chocolate chips, as they don't melt well. For white chocolate, use Ghirardelli melting wafers. If you're making multiple batches of pretzel rods you can use chocolate melting wafers or melting wafers, which are both inexpensive and melt really well (the taste is fine, but not as good as pure chocolate). Caramel: From scratch, homemade caramel will taste amazing; it's easy to make but it does take about an hour. Melted Kraft caramel bits or wrapped caramel candy squares work well too. Follow the melting instructions on the package.Gifting: Chocolate covered pretzel rods look beautiful displayed in cellophane bags, a few in each, tied with a fun ribbon. You could also place them in decorative Christmas tin. Walmart carries them, among others.Make Ahead And Storage Instructions: You can make these up to one week ahead of being gifted or consumed. After that they tend to lose their freshness. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry area. I store mine in the fridge. Allow the pretzels to come to room temperature before eating.