by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Sunday, September 9, 2012
Soft Pretzels w/ Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce
I feel most alive when the air is slightly crisp...when jeans or comfy pants and a t-shirt can be supplemented by a sweatshirt if you start feeling chilly. I love being able to chill outside of the stadium between rows of parked cars, temporary tents, and grills sizzling with brats, burgers, and dogs whose smell is enough to make you stop and chat.
pretzels wrapped around hotdogs or sausages to pretzels filled with veggies, meats, and gooey cheese (coming soon) to pretzel bites and sticks to good ol' fashioned soft pretzels like these - they ALWAYS please. Especially when served with an ooey-gooey cheese sauce that is slightly spicy (more so the longer it sits) and tastes of beer. I have to make at least a double-batch. Even then, they disappear super fast.
These were gone in no longer than 20 minutes, which is about how long it usually takes them to get eaten. And not long after that 20 minutes everybody was telling me I should have made a triple batch. Next time.
Soft Pretzels w/ Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 1½ hours-2 hours (largely una
Cook Time: 15-17 minutes
Keywords: simmer bake bread snack beer cheese flour chiles Super Bowl tailgating American
Ingredients (8 pretzels / ~2 cups sauce)
- 1½ c. lukewarm water (110 -115° F)
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 tsp.active dry yeast
- 4-4½ c. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbs. butter, melted
- ⅔ c. baking soda
- 1 egg yolk beaten w/ 1 Tbs. water
- Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 bottle (12 oz.) beer
- 2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, minced (& seeded, if you wish)
- black pepper
InstructionsMaking the Pretzels:
Combine the water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit until the mixture begins to turn creamy, ~5 minutes. Add 4 cups of the flour, salt, and melted butter and mix on low using the dough hook attachment until well combined. If dough seems extremely sticky, start adding in a little bit of the extra flour at a time until dough is just slightly tacky, but no longer sticky. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl, ~5 minutes.
Form dough into a loose ball and place in an oiled bowl Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, ~1 hour.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil or spray with pan spray. Set aside.
Once dough has risen turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 8 (basically) equal portions using a bench scraper. Roll each portion into a rope that is 18"-24" long. Lift up ends of rope to form a sort of U-shape and then twist the two sides around each other and bring down to form a pretzel shape. Place on baking tray and repeat with all of the dough portions. Let sit uncovered while you prepare the water and preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large, wide-ish pot (like a soup pot). Once it begins to boil, gradually add in the baking soda to prevent overflow. Once it comes back to the boil, lower the pretzels one at a time into the water for 30 seconds each, flipping over halfway. When picking up the formed dough, I like to use two fingers to pick it up, one through each pretzel "loop". This allows the dough to sort of stretch in the right direction. Then just lower it carefully into the boiling baking soda bath. Use a wide,flat slotted spoon or spatula to lift from the water. Let as much of the water as you can fall back into the pot and lay the pretzel back onto the prepared tray.
Once all of the pretzels are back on the tray, beat the egg yolk with the water and brush the top of each pretzel with it. Sprinkle with coarse salt (or parmesan, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon-sugar, what-have-you). Slide into preheated oven and bake until the pretzels turn a deep golden brown, 15-17 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to sit for as many minutes as you can before tearing into them. That's usually 5 tops in my house.Making the Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce:
This comes together very quickly - make it once you slide the pretzels into the oven and it will be finished before they come out.
Add beer to a medium saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a boil. While you're waiting, toss the cheddar cheese with the flour. Once beer is simmering, whisk in the reserved cheese and all of the remaining ingredients. Whisk regularly until the cheese has all melted and you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Hold warm until ready to serve.
We love soft pretzels pretty much ANYTIME. But if you want to take these tailgating (or somewhere similar), you can hold the cheese sauce in a small crockpot or thermos and wrap the warm pretzels in a towel and hold them in a cooler reserved for "hot" items. You may want to make a double batch - they go fast!
Michiana-based food writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.