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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
Due to the craziness of the holiday season, Leslie and I missed a couple of months of she made, ella hace. We're back in the swing of things this month...and not because things have necessarily slowed down or gotten less crazy. Simply because we've just missed our time cooking together. I need time with my foodie bff!

Since it's the week leading up to the Super Bowl, our theme for the month was an easy pick: Football Snacks! Now, I hear tell that there are people out there who could care less about football. I am not one of those people. I absolutely love it! I scream at the television. I call in plays from the sofa. I've even been known to knock over a t.v. tray in the heat of the moment - something my kids will never let me live down. Kind of like the time I forcefully told a team to "suck it" when we beat them...long live the underdog! I cannot be held responsible for my actions when my team takes the field.

But just as important to the football experience is the food. Be it something you buy from the vendors during halftime at the stadium, or a glorious spread laid out in front of you at home (okay, that's almost better since you don't have to wait until halftime), food and drink go hand-in-hand with football.

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
I've talked about my love of dips, nachos, dogs and weinies, carnitas, and wings. I've may have mentioned that a spread of appetizers is like a little slice of heaven. Cold beers. Maybe even a bottle of wine or a cocktail. But did you know that my all-time favorite game-day snack is pretzels? Soft, warm, homemade pretzels. In any form. I like 'em wrapped around my dog. Or in the form of a pocket. Or give me a spicy beer cheese sauce for dipping a good old-fashioned twist into. I will be a happy football fan.

So, you can probably guess that these poppable bites of soft pretzel...oozing with cheese...paper-thin slices of jalapeños peeking out...are my idea of happiness. Not to mention everybody else in my house. This recipe makes 6 dozen. They didn't last more than 30 minutes once they were out of the oven. And that's being generous.

What are your favorite football snacks? Mi amiga Leslie made another of our house favorites - pizza! Cheeseburger Pizza to be precise. Oooooohhhhhh lawdy!

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
Poppable soft pretzel bites with cheddar cheese and jalapeño slivers peeking out. Perfect game-day nibbles.
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 1-1/2 hours (+24 hours unattended)
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Keywords: bake appetizer snack bread vegetarian soy-free nut-free cheese chiles flour game day tailgating Super Bowl American

Ingredients (6 dozen)
    for the dough:
    • 1 c. room temperature beer
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce / 56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3-1/4 cups (420 g) bread flour
    • 2-1/4 teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
    for the filling:
    • 6 ounces (170 g) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
    • 2 jalapeños, sliced into paper-thin rounds
    for the bath:
    • 2 quarts water
    • 1/4 cup baking soda
    to finish:
    • 1 large egg, beaten with a dribble of water
    • coarse salt
    As I almost always do, I made the dough for these in my bread machine. Feel free to do it by hand or using a stand mixer.

    24 hours before you want to make the pretzels:
    Place all of the ingredients for the dough into the pan of a bread machine in the order listed (or in the order suggested by the manufacturer). Select dough cycle and let the machine do its work. Keep an eye on it during the mixing process. If it seems dry, dribble in a teaspoon of water at a time. If it seems wet, sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour at a time. The end result should be a slightly tacky dough that is neither sticky or dry.

    Once the machine has run its mixing and kneading cycle, turn it off and remove the dough (aka do not let it go through its first rise in the machine). The dough should be smooth and supple. Form it into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to develop the flavor.

    form and fill 'em:
    Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

    Turn the dough out onto an UNfloured work surface and cut into 12 equal portions. You'll be working with one portion at a time, keep the rest under plastic wrap or a very lightly damp towel to keep them from drying out.

    Pat the dough down using your fingertips to deflate. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle that is about 4"x7". Spread one-twelfth (approximately) of the cheese lengthwise in a thin line down the center of the dough. Top with 5 or 6 slices of the jalapeño.
    Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
    Stretch one long side of the rectangle over the filling, and roll it as tightly as you can into a cylinder. Pinch the edges and the seam to seal. Set on one of the prepared trays (you'll do six cylinders per tray), and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or a lightly damp towel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Let rise at room temperature until they've increased in size by about half, 20-30 minutes.
    Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
    Give 'em a bath:
    Bring the bath water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. Preheat oven to 500° F.

    Gently lower some of the dough cylinders into the boiling water (don't crowd, do it in a couple of batches, if necessary). Leave in the bath for about 20 seconds, turning as needed. Gently lift out using a flat, slotted spoon or spatula and let the water drain back into the pot. Arrange back on the baking sheets.

    Bake 'em:
    Brush the cylinders with a thin layer of the egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Use a pizza cutter to cut each cylinder into 6 "bites"; spread them out on the trays seam side down. You could cut first and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt second. Either way will work.
    Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
    Slide into preheated oven (use a rack in upper and lower third of oven, switching and turning halfway through OR use a rack in the center and cook sheets separately, turning sheet halfway through) and bake for 8 minutes.

    Eat 'em:
    Enjoy these warm, the same day they are made...though I doubt they'll last more than a few minutes. Seriously.

    -inspired by and adapted from Pretzel Making at home
    Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites
    What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

    Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

    Join me (here at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
    She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and

    I am also sharing these with:
    BYOB - il Cestino del Pane