This falls under the category of keep doing it until you get it right. Here’s another attempt at the soft pretzels. Even though they were still puffy and still not that dark, these pretzels were plenty tasty. I made a half batch and made some savory (garlic) and some sweet (cinnamon sugar). I was definitely partial to the cinnamon sugar ones although everyone else preferred the garlic. These were all that were left by the time I got my camera.
I tried the soft pretzels again today with a few tweaks, which solved some of the problems I had the last time. The results were darker and chewier — more like a pretzel than a bread roll. I made some topped with garlic salt (a favorite of the boys), some with grated Parmesan and some with garlic salt and sesame seeds. I still need a little work on my pretzel twisting technique as well; I think they look more pretzel-like if you roll them super-long before attempting to twist them. But the difference is mostly cosmetic and I’m fine with them the way they are.