So, I have been wanting to make soft pretzels forever but I have been scared and a tad overwhelmed by the process. Now that I finally bit the bullet and made them, I’m pretty mad at myself for waiting so long. There is only one extra step from just making regular ole’ bread and they can even be made up, frozen and finished at a later date. Homemade soft pretzels in the freezer, ready whenever the craving strikes? Yes please! I plan on making up a batch or two before baby is born (I better hurry up, less than 3 weeks left!) to have on hand.
I made these as part of our Labor Day feast and we ended up with one leftover. Frankly, I’m surprised we had any leftover. I sent it home with my parents because I knew I would inhale it by the end of the day and I really didn’t need any more carbs. My mom made a hot ham and cheese sandwich with it the next day and she said it was glorious.
These would be just perfect to serve at the game, especially with the spicy, bright cheddar cheese sauce. Who doesn’t love a good dipper while watching the game? And if you didn’t want to make full-sized pretzels, you could simply roll the dough into ropes and slice into bite-size nuggets for easier snacking. Delicious, buttery, chewy goodness is just waiting for you. I can’t stop dreaming about them.
Soft Pretzels with Jalapeno Cilantro Cheese Sauce
recipe from Smells Like Home
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Pretzel, Kosher, or course sea salt
2 small jalapeño peppers
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1. To make the pretzel dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter. Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Place a barely damp towel over the dough and the formed pretzels to prevent them from drying out while you form the other pretzels.
3. At this point, you can freeze the formed pretzels on the baking sheets. Once completely frozen, transfer them to a large zipper bag and continue to freeze until you need them. Use within 2 months.
4. To make the pretzels: Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
5. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an wide 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. If you’re freezing your formed pretzels, skip this step now and continue with it when you’re ready to boil and bake your pretzels from the freezer.
6. Using a flat spatula, gently lower the pretzels into the boiling water and boil them for 30 seconds. If boiling the frozen pretzels, add them to the water directly from the freezer – do not thaw them – and boil for a total of 45 seconds. Depending on the size of your pot, boil 2 to 4 pretzels at a time. Remove the pretzels from the water using the spatula, drain as best you can over the pot, and place them on the baking sheets. Brush the top of each pretzel with some melted butter and sprinkle with the pretzel/Kosher/sea salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. If the pretzels were frozen, bake for an extra 1 to 2 minutes. Lightly brush pretzels with the remaining melted butter immediately after you remove them from the oven. Serve warm.
7. To make the cheese sauce: Set the jalapeños on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you roast them over a gas burner on the stove, turning with tongs. Place the jalapeños in a heatproof bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to cool for 15 minutes then with a paper towel, peel and discard the blackened skins off leaving just the fleshy peppers remaining. Slice, remove and discard the seeds, and roughly chop the peppers. Set aside.
8. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the chopped jalapeños to coat with the butter. Whisk in the flour, coating the peppers, and cook for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
9. Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps of flour remain. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the shredded cheese until all of the cheese has melted. Stir in the cilantro and add a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve warm. The sauce can be kept warm for 15 to 20 minutes over very low heat on the stove, stirring occasionally. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave on medium power at 30 second intervals.