Pretzel Twist & ShoutPosted: May 2, 2012
It’s funny where food inspiration can hit you. Flipping through a cookbook. Watching the Cooking Channel. Stumbling across an unusual ingredient at the store. Or, during a snack break while on an epic shopping trip to the outlet mall. Yes, it’s true. My friends and I stopped at a certain pretzel chain for much-needed refueling. And you know what? It was good. And, it inspired me to make soft pretzels at home. I tried a slightly different (and more complicated) recipe a few months ago, but I think I prefer this one. The milk and brown sugar gave them a good flavor. I also made a spicy cheese and jalapeno dip to go with them, which seems appropriate since Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner.
Soft Pretzels with Spicy Cheese Dip
For the pretzels:
– 1 cup of milk
– 1 package of active dry yeast
– 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
– 2 ¼ cups of flour
– 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, diced & softened
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1/3 cup of baking soda
– Sea salt for sprinkling
For the dip:
– 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
– 1 tablespoon of flour
– ¾ cup of milk
– 1 jalapeno, minced
– 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
– 1 cup of Colby Jack cheese, shredded
– Cayenne pepper
Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it’s about 110º. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the yeast. Let the yeast soften and bubble, about 2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour, and then stir in the butter. Add the remaining flour and salt and mix into a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until it doubles, about 1 hour.
Heat your oven to 450º.
Punch the dough to deflate it and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 (or so) pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palm of your hands into 22 to 24 inch ropes. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups of warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the liquid and then place onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each pretzel with some sea salt. Bake until golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.
For the spicy cheese dip, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine, cooking about 1 minute until smooth. Whisk in the milk. Add the jalapeno and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season to taste with cayenne.