Look at these salty twisted babies. Their so golden, soft, spongy, pretzely. Pantry staples-flour, yeast, salt, sugar and butter-become a beloved street food snack in a snap.
The scratch-made and hand-twisted dough will not only wow those scarfing them down, but you’ll be pretty darn impressed too.
Do you ever obsess over what you’re going to bring to a gathering? I do! I’m a food blogger and self proclaimed foodie for gosh sake. There is a subtle nagging sense of pressure to create something fantastic, visually and flavorfully.
When the super bowl or any snack forward gathering rolls around, I always try to think of a “finger” or “hand-held” food that is unique and enticing. Over the years I have failed, creating food that is too fancy or high-maintenance for a sloppy beer guzzling fete.
Sandwiches, pizza, chips and dip. They always do well. Fig Caprese Salad with a Pomegranate drizzle? Not so much.
I’ve learned my lesson.
This year, at our friend’s super bowl party, I placed down the platter of pretzels and huge bowl of gooey beer cheese. “You made those?” Friends were astonished. It’s not every day that a soft pretzel is homemade. It’s the kind of street food that you get from the, well, street. Or Auntie Annie’s at the mall. Or thaw out and bake from the freezer section at Walmart.
After the whole lot of them were gobbled up in about 20 minutes, one friend said, “If you didn’t tell me you made those, I would have guessed you bought them from a local bakery”.
I’ll take it.
Finally a fun snack-y food that checks all the boxes. Hand-held, flavorful, carb-y, super cute and not pizza/chips/dip/wings.
Did I mention these soft pretzels are made from ingredients that you probably have in your house as you’re reading this? Seriously, go check. The only ingredient that I didn’t have was CHEDDAR for the Beer Cheese…and that’s because we’re on a diet.
(The diet didn’t stop me from eating 3 prezzies before I took photos, though).
So these pretzels specifically have a sweet story. Last year, at this exact time of year (Super Bowl Season), we moved into our new home. This was the first house we ever bought and were so excited to start renovating. While I was packing boxes for the move, I researched “fun” recipes for the super bowl party coming up that weekend. I decided on Street Pretzels and Beer Cheese because why the hell not?
So we moved in with boxes piled high. Boxes were in every corner, including the kitchen. I bit off more than I could chew. The flour, yeast, pots, pans, spoons, salt, sugar…you get the point…everything I needed was packed away. I actually cried. Had a mini meltdown.
“But I wanted to make pretzels,” I wailed.
My husband, God bless him, consoled me. “It’s okay babe, I will make something easy and quick to bring.”
THAT WASN’T THE POINT.
This year rolls around and I was BOUND and DETERMINED to make those salty golden soft pretzels that broke my heart last year.
AND I DID. I am darn proud of them and am so happy to share how easy they are for just about anyone to make…that is if you have pots, pans, flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water, for boiling
- 2/3 cup baking soda, for boiling
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for browning
- Pretzel salt, duh
(I doubled it for a big party)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ½ cup hoppy beer (I used a local IPA for a bitter punch)
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup Velveeta cheese
- ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp paprika
- salt & pepper to taste
- Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, 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, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. (Note: On cold days, preheat the oven to 100 degrees. Then turn it off. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and stick bowl in warmed oven for about 50-55 minutes. Don;t forget to remove the bowl from the oven before step 5!)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.
- In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into about 20 equal pieces.
- (See pictures below for a visual) Roll out each piece of dough into a 12-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other twice and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
- Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 2-3 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.
- Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- While pretzels bake, make the Beer Cheese: In a medium nonstick pot, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour all at once and cook for a couple of minutes, until it smells lightly toasted (you’re making a roux).
- Slowly pour in the milk, followed by the beer, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. The mixture will thicken.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in the cheese until just melted. Add back to the heat, pulling it on and off for whisking (make sure it does not stick). Then remove from heat and add the seasonings. Serve warm. (To reheat: Warm on stove in pot over medium heat, whisking constantly. Add splashes of milk to loosen the mixture).
Serve the pretzels + beer cheese warm and dunk away!
Try bite-sized pretzel nuggets by rolling the dough into tiny balls instead of twisting them into pretzels.