Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites
We enjoyed these pretzel bites a while ago, as dinner one Friday night.  I made two dipping sauces to go with them; a honey mustard, and a simple warm cheese sauce.  There's an option in the original recipe for a sweet version with a chocolate dipping sauce, but I decided not to make that one.  
Pretzel Bites
This recipe uses the same easy-to-work-with dough as these pretzel sliders.  I love making pretzel products using that recipe.  :)

To get that distinct pretzel color and flavor, a boil in a baking-soda is required before baking.  It's not really hard at all and really makes a difference.  Just watch your pot; the mixture really likes to bubble up.  My pretzels aren't shiny like the original bloggers'; it's because I usually skip the egg wash on breads.  So, as soon as they came out of the boiling water, I salted them, so it would stick to the still-wet dough.

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces
adapted from Annie's Eats
12-16 servings

Basic pretzel dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
To finish:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water (for egg wash- optional)
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

1.  To make the basic pretzel dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.

2.  Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate it.  Divide it up into approximately 6 equal portions.  Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out into a long rope about 1-inch in diameter.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the row into small segments, no longer than 1-inch each.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  

3.  Place the pretzel bites into the boiling water in batches so that they aren't overcrowded.  Boil each batch for about 30 seconds, stirring once or twice to submerge all surfaces in the water.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and spread out on the prepared baking sheets.  (If skipping the egg wash, salt the pretzels as they come out of the boiling water.)  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 9-11 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with sauces. (Recipes below.)

Cheese Sauce
adapted from Annie's Eats

3/4 cup 2% or whole milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese (medium or sharp)

1.  To make a cheese sauce, combine the  milk with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk frequently.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer about 1 minute until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the cheddar cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Reheat as needed.

Honey-Mustard Sauce
adapted from Allrecipes, via here

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared mustard (I like spicy brown of Dijon for this)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Store covered in the refrigerator.  (Make this ahead of time.)
Pretzel Bites
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