Soft Pretzels With Roasted Jalapeno Cheese Sauce
Tell me that you're as an obsessive party planner as I am. Tell me that you hem and haw, and go back and forth a minimum of six times about which desserts you want on your menu. Tell me that I'm not the only one, because I sure feel like it sometimes! I keep a working menu for each party or dinner we plan in Evernote, so that wherever I am, I have access to the most up-to-date file. And that file gets worked over.
When it comes to deciding on appetizers and snacks, however, life is a little easier. These pretzels, aside from this cheesy chorizo and caramelized onion dip and my old-standby of baked fontina , are my all-time favorite party snack. I crave buttery soft homemade pretzels nearly all the time, and now that I've learned a method to have them on hand for when I have to succumb to the craving, I can share it with you -- and you know, take you down with me. Because you know what? I know for sure that you guys love your homemade soft pretzels just as much as I do, as is evident from one of my three most popular posts ever.
So the awesome thing about these pretzels is that you can make the dough and form the pretzels well in advance of your party. The key is to freeze them early, so that they are ready to quickly boil and bake for a few minutes before your guests arrive. You basically do all the hard work days (or weeks!) before your party, then have plenty of time to sit and enjoy the commercials and other incredible food you've made during the big game. (Or wait, do you ladies actually watch the Super Bowl?)
I've included a step-by-step photo guide below about how to shape the pretzels (lots of you have asked me about this) as well as the full recipe with instructions that you can print out. The pretzels themselves are really super easy to make, and if you're a cheese sauce lover like I am (without any processed ingredients!), you'll love the roasted jalapeño cheese sauce recipe I made as well. Game on, people, game on!
Once the dough has risen, dump it out on your work surface and divide it into 8 equal (ish) pieces. Keep the extra dough covered with a lightly damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Very lightly oil the surface with some vegetable oil - you can see the droplets above.
Roll each piece into a 24-inch log. (This one was almost finished.) The dough may shrink in size - just keep rolling until you get the size you want. (It doesn't have to be exactly 24 inches. Don't stress if it isn't.)
Shape each log into a large "U" with the ends pointing away from you.
Cross the ends over each other.
Twist the end around each other once to form the classic pretzel shape. Transfer each pretzel to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover the formed pretzels with another damp towel. Either freeze the pretzels on the baking sheets or proceed with boiling and baking them to serve immediately.
Soft Pretzels with Roasted Jalapeño Cheese Sauce source: pretzels adapted from Alton Brown (freezing method from Annie's Eats ), cheese sauce adapted from this recipe.
These pretzels are best eaten when they are freshly made. So to make them for a crowd, make the dough, then form and freeze the pretzels in advance of your party. This will also give you a good opportunity to double or triple your dough in case you need a lot of pretzels. Instructions for boiling and baking from the freezer are below.
For the pretzels:
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 22 oz all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- Pretzel, Kosher, or coarse sea salt
For the roasted jalapeno cheese sauce:
- 2 small jalapeño peppers
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (not package pre-shredded cheese – shred your own)
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- Kosher salt
1. To make the pretzel dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter. Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Place a barely damp towel over the dough and the formed pretzels to prevent them from drying out while you form the other pretzels.