Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

I found a few versions of this recipe on various food blogs. I'm always very hesitant to make anything that includes yeast. I don't know why I am so afraid of yeast, but I never seem to have much luck with getting the bread to rise up light and fluffy like it should. I usually end up with dense, doughy, gross mess. Maybe because pretzels aren't generally, light and fluffy or because I just got lucky with the yeast this time... but these little pretzel bites were a huge success even though the recipe calls for yeast. I made a double batch and they were gone so fast! Everyone really loved them. They take a few steps, but they are not that difficult to create.These would be perfect for your upcoming Super Bowl party!

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
1 package (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
1/2 cup finely chopped cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
about 6 cups water (for boiling)
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 to 2 tablespoons course sea salt

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water. Let that sit until foamy (about 8 minutes). 

In another bowl (or a small saucepan used to warm your milk), stir together the milk and 2 tablespoons brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour to and milk mixture to the large bowl containing the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add more flour as needed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently kneed to form a smooth ball.

Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Place the dough into the large bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for about 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands and/or a rolling pin with flour. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 12 inches long. Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten the rope and stretch the dough to form a 12 inch by 4 inch rectangle. Repeat with remaining sections of dough. 


Gently press ham and cheese into the flattened dough, dividing the ham and cheese evenly among the 4 dough pieces. Roll each section of roll on thetransfer the pieces to the prepared baking sheet. long side as tightly as possible to "reform" into a rope. Cut each dough piece into 12 1-inch pieces and 

Allow to rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the baking soda to the water and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.

Cook the pretzels in batches for about 30 seconds each in the water. They will be slightly puffed and float to the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pretzel bites from the water and place back on the baking sheet.

Bake the pretzel bites until puffed and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Brush the warm pretzel bites with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with yellow mustard or honey mustard for dipping.


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