Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homemade Pretzels and Cheese Sauce

For those of you who do not know, Ben loves pretzels.  When we were at his parents' house over Christmas, we were playing a game and Ben had to list 3 things that he loved.  He said 1) me; 2) pretzels; and 3) cheese.  This shows you how much he loves them.

One Sunday a few weeks after we were married, I asked Ben what sounded good for dinner.  His suggestion was pretzels.  After I told him I had had a recipe for that he was ecstatic.  It has become at tradition of sorts for me to make pretzels at least once a month, usually on Sunday since that is when I have the most time.

Pretzel Bites :)

Below is the recipe that I use to make pretzels/pretzel bites as well as a yummy cheese sauce to go with them.

Homemade Pretzels/Pretzel Bites

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (it should be around the maximum heat you can dip your fingers in and not burn them)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 1/4 t yeast (1 pkg. yeast)
  • 4-4 1/2 cups flour
  1. Mix warm water, sugar, salt and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture gets all bubbly.
  2. In a large bowl add flour 1 cup at a time to the yeast mixture and mix using a dough hook either on your standing mixer or a hand mixer.  Keep adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky. You may need to use your hands at some point to mix the flour in. 
  3. After dough is mixed, spray some plastic wrap with cooking spray and lay over the top of the bowl.  Set in a warm place and let rise for about an hour.  The dough should have doubled in size/be at the top of the bowl. 
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. After the dough has risen to the appropriate size, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  6. While the water starts boiling prepare your pretzels in 1 of 2 methods.
    • Traditional Pretzel Method:
      1. Cut dough into about 8 equal sized pieces.
      2. Roll out each piece into a long rope between 18 and 24 inches long.
      3. Make a "U" with the pretzel dough rope.
      4. Bring the two ends towards each other and twist them around each other 2-3 times.
      5. Put the ends on the lower part of the pretzel and push so they will stay together.
    • Pretzel Bite Method:
      1. Cut dough into about 8 equal sized pieces.
      2. Roll our each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long.
      3. Using kitchen shearers or a knife cut the rope into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces.
  7. When water is boiling place 2-3 pretzels or 8-10 bites in the pot. Boil until they float to the top.  (About 30 seconds for pretzels or 10-15 seconds for the bites).
  8. Remove with a slotted spoon from water and place on paper towels to drain.  
  9. Once drained, place on cookie sheets.
  10. Top with melted butter or beaten egg and salt.  Bake for 12-14 minutes. 
When I'm making traditional pretzels I usually like to make them with different flavors.  Some of our favorites are:
  • Parmesan Garlic: Sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan cheese
  • Cheesy Jalepeño: Top with jalepeños and shredded cheese (when we don't have japalenños we like to add diced green chilies)
  • Cinnamon Sugar: Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture.
Now for the cheese sauce :)

Pretzel Cheese Sauce:
  • 1 T butter or margarine
  • 1 T flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1-2 T of garlic powder
  • 1 cup cheese (we usually use Colby Jack)
  1. Melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth.
  2. Whisk in milk making sure the mixture stays smooth.
  3. Add garlic.
  4. Switch stirring to a spoon and continue to stir for about 15 minutes until sauce has thickened.
  5. Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted and incorporated. 
For a little bit spicier cheese sauce (which we both love!) we like to add in a finely diced jalapeño or some green chilies.  Add these in with the garlic. 

Pretzel source here.
Cheese Sauce source here

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