Soft Pretzels and Cheese Sauce

So I know that I don’t post a lot of snacks, but here is a great one for any lazy Saturday afternoon. Or the upcoming big game day! What is your favorite finger food? Give me some ideas to create a game day snack board!

Levi and I love soft pretzels! We always stop at Pretzelmaker in the mall, and Levi has been talking about trying this out for a long time! So one of my rare Saturday’s off we had sometime and very few house projects that could be accomplished in a day. So we had an awesome snowy day baking and doing taxes and just hanging out 🙂 It was wonderful! I am so glad that we tried them because they are light and fluffy and salty and amazing!!

The first time you try these out I would carve out some time to make sure you get all the steps right. But now that I’ve done it, the process seems more simple than I had anticipated. I am also not super happy with the cheese sauce, so here is what I have. It’s not horrible but I know I can do better next time. I’ll update it once I have a new idea.

This recipe makes 6 pretzels. So make the necessary adjustments for the crowd you are trying to please.

Ingredients:

For Pretzels

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, cubed and room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 1/8 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 3 Cups Flour (I used half all purpose and half bread flour)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • Coarse Sea Salt for sprinkling on top and melted butter for brushing on top

For Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Milk
  • 4 oz Cheddar Cheese, shredded. I’ve heard that shredding your own makes a big difference over buying pre-shredded.

In a stand mixer combine the butter and brown sugar with 2 cups of hot water (110-115 degrees). Add the yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes until it gets foamy. It’s best to let it sit in a warm environment. I had warmed up the stove just a little bit and set it in there.

Add 1 1/2 cup flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Using a dough hook mix on low speed. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times to get the flour to start incorporating. Increase to a medium speed and add the rest of the flour. Mix until the dough starts pulling away from the bowl.

Move the dough to a clean, floured surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth. Brush the inside of a bowl with butter and place the dough inside a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour. Dough rises the best in a warm and moist environment. I boiled some water and placed it in a baking dish on the bottom rack of the oven and place the bowl on the rack above it.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour until it’s doubled in size.

 

  

Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down. Cut the dough in half and cut each half into 3 equal pieces.

Take a cookie sheet and line with wax paper and coat with cooking spray. Measure out a 24 inch space. You can use a piece of string or the measuring tape to help ensure that your ropes are all the same length. Roll out the dough, occasionally hold each end and twirl the dough around kind of like a jump rope and slap the middle against the counter. This will help it stay stretched out.

To make the pretzel shape lift each end to make a U shape, cross the ends over each other once or twice and fold the ends down over the bottom. Place each pretzel on the cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place back in the oven with more boiled water for about 30 minutes. They will puff up slightly.
  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large pot mix 10 cups of water with the baking soda. Bring to a simmer. Use scissors to cut the parchment paper around the pretzels. Slide the pretzels off the baking sheet and coat the baking sheet with cooking spray. 2 at a time carefully invert the pretzels in the water and use tongs to remove the wax paper. Simmer the pretzels for 45 seconds on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon or a large spatula and slightly shake off the excess water. This step will help you get the dark brown pretzel color while maintaining a soft and chewy bread.

Once your pretzels are ready for the oven sprinkle them with coarse salt. Bake for 12- 15 minutes, rotate the baking sheets halfway through. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.

While the pretzels are baking use a small sauce pan and melt the butter and add the flour. Mix with a whisk until you have a light brown color. Very slowly whisk in the milk. Gently simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stir until all the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

I bet you could make these the day before and put them in the fridge and then pop them in the oven again on game day! But I would make the cheese sauce fresh.

I am also going to try these with cinnamon sugar and a cream cheese frosting!! I really hope you all give them a try. They are fantastic!!!

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