Pretzel Bites with Beer and Cheddar Cheese Sauce

I’ve never been a big football fan, but if there’s great food around, I’m game. And this recipe I decided to make for the Super Bowl this year is a definite champion.

You know me. I put on my game face and played hard in the kitchen. I made this Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels recipe from Finecooking.com with my Beer and Cheddar Cheese Sauce for dipping, and while these pretzels are absolutely amazing, they are also extremely time-consuming. They make for the perfect munchable for your Super Bowl party spread, however I advise you to start this the day before.

Just like the Super Bowl teams are preparing well before the big event, preparing these pretzels in advance is the best way to win. You’ll need to let the dough rise for a good 30 minutes first. Then you have to shape them. Then you have to freeze them until they’re hard. And then! You have to dip that pretzel dough into boiling water and let them rise again before baking.

See what I mean? Oh, but don’t let that put you off. It’s much easier than it sounds. Plus, I made a few small tweaks to make it even easier for you to make.

For starters, with most recipes involving dough, you need to activate the yeast. True that you can dump it in water and let nature take its course, I used hot water (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and add 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar to it. I stirred it up well and then added the yeast, letting it sit in a warm place for about 5 minutes. The yeast did its thing, doubling and size, frothy away and smelling yeasty as ever.

The second change I made was using 2 cups of self-rising flour and 2 1/2 cups of bread flour instead of 4 1/2 cups of bread flour.

Lastly, I changed the amount of the oil in the recipe, increasing it from 1 tablespoon to 3 tablespoons. Oh, and I made them into bite-sized pieces because that makes it more convenient for the squad to munch on during the game.

Clearly, these were all winning moves by Team Me. Because these came out beautifully! And the cheese sauce! Oh wow! The beer and cheese flavors were a winning combination. I used Guinness to give it a darker color and deeper flavor though you can use whatever beer you’d prefer. Chef’s note: feel free to drink one while you’re cooking. It makes game day snack prep even more fun.

While the pretzels by themselves are amazing, dipping it into the cheese sauce is a total touchdown. You’ll definitely score big this Super Bowl if you add this to your snack roster!

Beer & Cheddar Cheese Sauce 

Ingredients

1   12oz bottle of beer (I used Guinness) 
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Seasoned salt to taste  
Ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion
10 oz mild sharp Cheddar cheese, medium diced
(I used a combination of white cheddar and yellow cheddar)  

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk constantly for about 1 minute.
  2. Gradually whisk in beer. Cook, whisking constantly about 3-5 minutes until the mixture has thickened.
  3. Whisk in cheese, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. Continue to whisk until smooth.

Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels Bites 

Recipe used and adapted from
http://www.finecooking.com/recipe/bavarian-style-soft-pretzels

Ingredients

1 package of active dry yeast
1  1/2 cups warm (100°F to 105°F)
2 cups of self rising flour
2   1/2 cups of bread flour
2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. baking soda
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. pretzel or coarse salt

Directions

Make the dough
In a small bowl combine the yeast, brown sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of warm water.  Let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes. (The mixture should smell yeasty. If it doesn’t, start over with a fresh batch of active dry yeast.) 

Meanwhile put flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Once the yeast has activated add it to the flour.  Mix on low speed until the ingredients are hydrated and form a coarse ball of dough, 2 to 3 minutes. If all of the flour is not incorporated into the dough, add more water 1 tsp at a time. 

Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough becomes smooth, supple, and elastic, about 3 minutes. The dough should be soft but only slightly tacky; if it seems sticky or very tacky, sprinkle in more flour, as needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and knead by hand for a few more seconds. Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until it’s about 1  1/2 times its original size, 1 to 1  1/2 hours.

Shape the pretzels
Line a large baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

Spread a little oil on a work surface and transfer the dough to it.  Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.

Using your palms and fingers, roll each piece of dough on the work surface into a rope that’s about 30 inches long and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. If the dough resists or shrinks back, let it rest for a few minutes while you work on other pieces; short rests will let the gluten relax enough to allow for the full rollout.

Working with 1 dough rope at a time cut 2 inch pieces to make pretzel bites.  Place pretzel bites on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard, at least 2 hours and up to 3 weeks.

Dip the pretzels
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and stir until completely dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Using a stainless-steel slotted spoon dip a few pretzel bites in the water and soak for 5 seconds.  Remove the pretzel from the liquid, allowing the excess to drip off, and return it to the baking sheet. Brush the tops and sides of the pretzels with some of the beaten egg.

Let the pretzels thaw and rise at room temperature until they are soft and puffy, 1  1/2 to 2 hours.

Bake the pretzels
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Brush pretzels once more with egg.

Lightly sprinkle the pretzels with the salt. Set the baking sheet of pretzels on another baking sheet (double-pan them) to prevent the bottoms of the pretzels from browning too quickly. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until rich, deep mahogany-brown for about 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pretzels to a rack and cool before serving.

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