Friday, February 11, 2011

Homemade Pretzels with Cheese Sauce

I know I'm late to the party as talking about Superbowl food and stuff is sooooo last week (Yay Packers, by the way!) but, even though I made these pretzels for the event in question, I want to make sure they don't stay labeled as "party food". No, in fact I think you should make these any time, special event or not.

First, they are really easy to make, just like making bread. Second, they're impressively tasty, think bagels but with a fun shape factor. And third, they are endlessly adaptable: they could be salty, sweet, with sesame or poppy seeds, served with a cheesy sauce or an onion dip, or even, oh my, with a cinnamon coating and served with a cream cheese dip! I just thought of that one, I might have to make some this weekend!

Homemade Pretzels
adapted from Chuck Hughes via Food Network Canada

1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110F and 115F)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp melted butter

10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
Coarse salt, sesame seeds, your choice of toppings

Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine warm water, sugar and active dry yeast. Allow to sit 5 minutes so the yeast can start doing its thing. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Once the yeast mixture starts to foam, add the melted butter and pour into the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, start mixing the dough until it comes together. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary to obtain a smooth ball of dough. Place the ball of dough in your previously oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about one hour.

Once your dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it lightly. Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an approximately 20-inch rope. Make a U shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the classic pretzel shape. Proceed that way with each of the 12 pieces of dough and place the pretzels on the baking sheet and refrigerate for one hour. This step allows the surface of the pretzels to dry and makes them easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 450F.

In the largest pot you have, bring the 10 cups of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the baking soda, very carefully, a little bit at a time, as it will cause the water to boil over.

Place the pretzels in the boiling water, one at a time, 30 seconds each. Remove the pretzels from the water with a large spatula and place them back on the parchment lined baking sheet. The boiling step will help the pretzels get that signature brown, crunchy exterior.

Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash, sprinkle with your topping of choice and bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until the pretzels get that dark golden brown we're looking for. Transfer the pretzels to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Note: If you're not sure you're going to eat your pretzels all in the same day, may I suggest you omit sprinkling them with salt. The salt will make them soggy the next day.

Cheese Sauce
adapted from Ricardo Magazine

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 (370 ml) can of evaporated milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp ground smoked chipotle pepper
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, preferably orange
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch and evaporated milk together; set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and smoked chipotle pepper and cook for another minute. Add the evaporated milk mixture and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the grated cheddar and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm with the pretzels.

Note: This sauce is terrific in burgers as well. And if you have any leftovers, you can make a great quickie mac 'n cheese with it the next day.

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Mr. and Mrs.Stank said...

If u do a cin & sug topping.. I suggest eiither turning oven down or doing it after baking.. I made some for superbowl and the sugar burnt before the pretzels were cooked.

Unknown said...

Yay for homemade pretzels with cheese sauce. These look SO good!!!

Unknown said...

I didn't have much luck with my pretzels making as you did with yours. Mine were a total flop. Yours look fabulous by the way and that boiling step is a great tip.

Brilynn said...

Those look awesome! My pretzels are never shaped as nicely...

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I am a big fan of both Chuck and Ricardo!

Lucie said...

I've been wanting to make homemade pretzels for quite a while now...these look great!

Nic said...

Oooh, I've never made pretzels before. Yours look so perfect in shape and rather delicious, perfect snacking food!

grace said...

i'm usually perfectly content with mustard for dipping, but your cheese sauce sounds fantastic. fantastic, i tell you.
also, my word verification is 'undies'... :)

Valerie said...

I love pretzels, but I've never made them. One of these days I gotta try.

Linda said...

This sounds so good!!!!!

my blog

Dining Table Sets said...

This is what I've been searching in the net this homemade pretzels. Kids love it the first time they taste it. And they always wanting to prepare at home.

Francesca said...

Yam!! I love Pretzels and somehow have never thought of making my own - this recipe sounds delicious and will give it a go! Thank you!!