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My mom read a Rachel Ray magazine, and is planning a craft project with my nephews where they make a log cabin out of pretzel rods. The problem is that it likely won't be eaten on the same day.

The magazine called for using spray cheese, which I would assume would have lots of preservatives, and she was thinking of using whipped cream cheese (until I raise the issue of storage).

Everything that I can think of to use (icing, caramel, melted chocolate) is relatively sweet. Is there something that we could use that would be sticky, non-sweet and be safe after being stored at room temperature for a couple of days? Given how it's being used, it won't be tightly wrapped.

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Peanut butter might work. It is safe at room temperature and not really sweet. It is somewhat soft, but so is the canned cheese. Natural peanut butter with the oil poured off might be thicker for use as mortar. The flavor would be good with pretzels.

  • We went with peanut butter, but I had forgotten about your recommendations of natural w/ the oil poured off. (my mom had gotten natural, as she was avoiding sugar, but I stirred it, so it was then too thin to use.) We sent my step-dad to the store for homogenized ... which worked, but it was so thick that I burst my piping bag. (ended up switching to a freezer bag that I brought). – Joe Nov 30 '15 at 2:02
  • Of course, the structure was barely stable as it was (and I don't think spray cheese would've been any better). If I had to do it again, I'd make a cardboard plug, wrap it in aluminum foil, then stick it the tray then stick the pretzels to it, rather than assuming they'll stay up on their own. If nothing else, it'd be easier to make the sloped roof work. – Joe Nov 30 '15 at 2:04
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Maybe, just maybe, meringue will work. You'll have to dehydrate it after assembly, putting it in the oven at low and slow, like a baiser.

If you want to give it a shot, try it out first. I'm not certain it will hold well enough on the slippery pretzel surface, and it's also possible that the logs will become unpleasantly dry.

Another option would be to try something based on a vegetable paste, like ajvar or kyopolu. But while the paste itself is preserved, it is wet enough to wet the logs through so they could be unsafe at room temperature and/or get an unapetizing look. Maybe binding it with gelatine or similar will work.

Possibly you could experiment with something fat based, like buttercream without the butter. Solid fats can actually whip well without sugar. It will be rather heavy though, so maybe emulsify one of said preserves into it.

Personally, I'd also welcome a whipped ganache made from 99% chocolate and cream, without any sugar. But this is unlikely to appeal to children.

Finally, molecular gastronomy may offer a way out. You could try to make a set foam from something which does not have enough nutrients to spoil, in the simplest case just colored water. Again, you have to work in a way which keeps the logs from getting too soggy.

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