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Pretzel Bites

I made this yummy appetizer this week for a get-together with some of our friends. They were a huge hit! They are filled with ham and cheese – who wouldn’t love that combination?? They were pretty easy to make, the only thing that took a while was just the 2 hours for the dough to rise. The recipe is from epicurious.com. Serve them with some honey mustard and have an instant hit! Chewy, salty yumminess – you have to try this!

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pack light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115°F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115°F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped (or shredded) country ham, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped sharp cheddar, divided
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 to 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse salt

Stir yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t start to foam, start over with new yeast). In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently  knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F with the rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two 4-sided sheet pans with parchment paper.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12-by-4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of ham and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, ham, and cheese and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).

Bring water (6 cups) to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and stir in baking soda. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans.

Bake until puffed golden-brown, about 15 minutes (cheese may ooze slightly). Brush warm pretzel bites with butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with honey mustard sauce for dipping.


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