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Monday, February 7, 2011

Soft Pretzels with Jalapeno Cheese Sauce

Well the Superbowl didn't have the outcome that I was hoping for, my team had too many turnovers, I wasn't a fan of the halftime show and the commercials weren't anything exciting, but the food was good at least.  For me these soft pretzels were the highlight of the night.


I debated between a couple different recipes - one from Baking Illustrated and one from Alton Brown.  Although similar the main differences were in the type of flour and the type of sweetener.  The Baking Illustrated recipe used bread flour which has a higher gluten content and therefore creates a chewier dough.  Pretzels are supposed to be chewy so I decided to stick with the bread flour.  The Baking Illustrated recipe also used honey and after reading their explanation, I decided to go with that - it also meant I didn't have to open a package of brown sugar for a couple tablespoons - so it made it a fairly easy decision.  The other key to the recipe which both versions did is to boil the pretzels in a baking soda solution, so make sure you don't skip this step.

The pretzels are best eaten the day they are made or you can freeze them right away and then warm in the oven when you want them.  Don't store them in a covered container on your counter top though or they will end up a little soggy.


I made a simple spicy, garlicky cheese sauce to dip these in because it sounded good and I was already chopping jalapenos and garlic for guacamole and sliders that I was making.  It turned out to be a great dipping sauce for the pretzels adding a spicy kick to the slightly sweet and salty pretzel dough.  They would also be good with mustard or a cheddar cheese sauce.  Of course you can also sub cinnamon and sugar for the salt sprinkled on before baking and make more dessert-like pretzels if you prefer.

Soft Pretzels
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Illustrated

Dough:
1 package rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour (16 1/2 ounces)
1 cup water, at approximately 110 degrees
Approximately 1 T olive oil

Baking Soda Solution:
Approximately 6 cups water
3 T baking soda
Salt for sprinkling on pretzels

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all ingredients for the dough.  Make sure you are using rapid rise yeast, or you will need to proof your yeast before mixing.  Mix on low speed until combined and then knead about 5-7 minutes on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Prepare a separate bowl by coating with olive oil, transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat evenly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down, recover and let rise approximately 30 minutes more.

In a large low pan (a 12" skillet with deep sides or a small dutch oven will work perfectly) bring water and baking soda to a boil over medium high heat.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Separate dough into 12 approximately 2 ounce pieces.  Roll each piece into a long string, about 20 inches in length.  Fold pretzels into shape, twisting the ends over each other and pressing lightly to seal dough into shape.  Transfer pretzels, a few at a time to boiling water, cook 30 seconds on each side, turning with a slotted spoon, drain and transfer to prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and repeat until all the pretzels have been boiled.  They don't need much room on the baking sheet as they won't spread much in the oven.  Bake approximately 12-14 minutes until dark golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve.

Jalapeno Cheese Sauce

1 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
3/4 cup milk
1 clove garlic, finely grated or minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1 cup Colby Jack cheese
1/2 -1 tsp cayenne pepper

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk to combine, cooking about one minute until smooth.  Add milk, whisking to incorporate.  Add garlic and jalapeno.  Switch to a wooden spoon and stir frequently until thickened, about 15 minutes.  The sauce should begin to coat the back of the spoon.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Add cayenne pepper to taste. 

54 comments:

  1. Thanks for the cheesy dip recipe...i wanted that :)

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  2. Oh yummy! My husband would love me forever if I made this for him!

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  3. Just found your blog... adding it to "Smitten Kitchen" my other bookmarked blog... Thanks for sharing your talents with us. My wife isn't the cook, I am, so I'm always looking for something new! I think I found it!

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  4. Thank you all - this was a big hit here!

    @Patrick - thanks for adding me - I feel pretty special among company like Smitten Kitchen. Hope you enjoy!

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  5. Yum! I made these pretzels tonight for dinner for myself! I had leftover cheese fondue that I used, can't wait to try the cheese sauce with them.

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  6. @Kari - glad you liked them!

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  7. These pretzels....delicious anytime!

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  8. I just finished making my seond batch and they are delicious! I've made mine into rolls instead of prenzels because I'm a college student and don't have the time to roll out the dough. I dipped this last batch in cinnamon/sugar before putting them in the over--delish! Thanks so much for all the great recipies!

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  9. I love making homemade pretzels at home. I'm going to have to try this cheese sauce with them next time.

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  10. How many pretzels does this recipe typically yield?

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  11. @liliesmom - it makes about a dozen

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  12. It's Jen - I have no idea why I'm posting as anonymous - for some reason, my google account won't let me post.

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  13. I just found your blog and already i have book marked two of your recipe. There are so many yummy things to make!

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  14. Is the olive oil just for the bowl, or do I use 1 T in the dough and then a little bit of additional for the bowl?

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  15. @TheStewarts - the oil is for the bowl.

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  16. We just made these tonight to eat while watching football and the dip was AMAZING!! Thank you for sharing!

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  17. I actually posted these on my blog because I made them and they were so yummy! Thank you for the recipe!! Yummy! http://entertainingcreativity.blogspot.com

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  18. I am making Jalapeno Cheese Dip for Soft Pretzels for Memorial Day Weekend!
    Can't wait to try it. I hope I just
    don't try too much of it before
    company arrives!
    Oh, NO!

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  19. Do you think this dip is good for a chip dip also?

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    Replies
    1. Sure, it would be great with chips too

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  20. Do you have to use yeast??? Or can you go with out it?

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  21. I don't know what I did wrong, but my cheese dip was the ULTIMATE FAIL. Maybe I'll attempt it again another time. :(

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    1. Mine too - real chalky. Any tips, Jen?

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    2. Did you grate the cheese yourself? Preshredded has additives that can make your sauce grainy. Also make sure you let the roux cook for a minute or so to get rid of the flour taste.

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    3. I was a little worried about these comments but followed the recipe exactly and it turned out awesome! We only did the cheese dip. Used a block of Colby jack and whole milk. Added some green chillies to it also.

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  22. Just made these, and they are so good. I could probably eat half the batch at once. Will definitely be making these again!

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  23. How long do these last? I was planning on making these as bite size pretzels for a party, just wondering if I can make them ahead of time?

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  24. Does the t mean teaspoon or tablespoon??

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    Replies
    1. T means tablespoon, tsp is teaspoon

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  25. What can be used instead of bread flour? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. The bread flour is necessary because of the higher gluten content. It can be found at any grocery store, I would recommend waiting until you have it to make these.

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  26. Is is best to serve the dip hot, like in a mini crock pot or something?

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  27. Is it best to serve this dip hot in a mini crock pot or something?

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    Replies
    1. You can do hot or cold, I prefer it hot.

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  28. How far in advance can you make them and does the sauce reheat well?

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    Replies
    1. I would make them the same day or make them ahead of time and freeze. The sauce is fine to be reheated.

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  29. do you freeze before baking or after? if before do you do the baking soda bath and then freeze?

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    1. You can do either... If you freeze before bakg, thaw then do the bath and bake.

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  30. Dumb question: I would like to make these for a party, but will have to travel with them. Do you think it's ok to do it all before I leave and then reheat the pretzels in the oven at my destination at like, 350 for 10 minutes? Will that dry them out?

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  31. I would think that would work.

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  32. Mmmm i wi definately have to try this out
    My hubby has been wanting some pretzels but i dont have a reciepe until now
    :) thank you.

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  33. Is the flour self-rising, or all purpose? And do you seed the pepper? Thanks!

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  34. You all purpose for the cheese dip, bread flour for the pretzels. I generally seed the peppers, if you don't, it will be a lot spicier.

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  35. Instead of twisting them, I just rolled it into pretzel sticks and baked them that way. Worked a lot better as a finger food. :) I didn't have honey on hand so I substituted Agave, and they were awesome. I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe because they freeze great!

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  36. Probably a stupid question, but can you use any kind of cheese?

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  37. I made these yesterday, the first time ever making pretzels. They turned out great! I had to control myself and not eat them all and save some for the family they inhaled them all in one sitting. Thanks for the easy directions !~
    Sarah

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  38. I just realized that I don't have a dough hook for my kitchenaid. Do you have any instructions on how to make them without it? Thanks :)

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    Replies
    1. You can definitely knead the dough by hand -- it will just take a bit longer!

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  39. Believe me when I say I can NOT cook! I saw these and although I believed I would fail at amking them I gave them a try. I had a lot of fun making them and they came out perfect!! I love the cheese dip and thank you for including that. Finally something I can take to a family function :) thank you soooo much!

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  40. This recipe was slightly confusing because you said to combine all the ingredients for the dough. So I added the olive oil to the dough. Only to read in the comments that it's meant for the bowl. Hopefully my pretzels turn out ok.

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  41. Looking to make these ahead for a party. Will the pretzels freeze well? I'm thinking that they should be frozen after the boiling process, then thawed and baked for the party. Is that how this should be done? thanks in advance!

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