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Soft Pretzel Bites are chewy pieces of heaven that you can serve salted alongside homemade cheese dipping sauce or sweet with a cinnamon sugar coating.
What is it about the sound of an email arriving in your inbox that is SO INCREDIBLY URGENT? Whenever I hear that noise I find myself instantly and involuntarily opening my inbox, even if I was right in the middle of doing something. A third of the time it’s some annoying email about a lame sale at a retail store, and the other third of the time it’s a food related press release that has nothing to do with me. Sometimes it’s important, but rarely does any email constitute the immediate attention so many of us seem to give it. Do you suffer from the same email insanity? I partially blame smart phones, they’ve created an anxiety-inducing standard that all emails must be answered STAT. I seriously can’t even imagine a time when all typed correspondence had to be physically delivered via snail mail… that already seems like such a foreign and ancient concept.
I’ve been making a conscious effort to pull in the reigns on email insanity, allowing my phone to be in a different room while I do other things. It’s a nice relief. I did that while making these pretzel bites, only checking my phone while waiting for the dough to rise and the bites to bake. Unfortunately it wasn’t all too relaxing because I was still single-handedly filming myself making these soft pretzel bites. That’s no easy feat so I hope you guys like these videos! If you do, make sure to let me know what you’d like to see next.
For the pretzels:
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups (562.5 to 625 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 1 whole egg
- Coarse sea salt
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the cheese sauce:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pretzels:
- Combine the water, honey, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and add the salt then gradually add the flour on low speed. Knead on medium speed for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough appears very wet and sticky, add up to a 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Make ahead: the pretzel dough can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen in an airtight container for three months. Thaw frozen dough in the fridge overnight. Refrigerated dough can be shaped into pretzels while still cold, but allow some extra time for the pretzels to puff up before dipping and baking.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope 22 inches long. Cut the rope into 1 to 2-inch pieces to make bites. Cover the dough while bringing 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large shallow pot. Gradually add the baking soda.
- Boil the pretzel bites in the baking soda water in batches of 15, for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the bites aren’t touching.
- In a small bowl beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the tops of the bites with the egg wash. If making savory bites, sprinkle generously with the sea salt. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Make ahead: allow bites to cool to room temperature then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen in a 250°F oven until warmed.
- If making sweet bites with cinnamon sugar, brush all over with the melted butter before sprinkling with cinnamon sugar. Toss to coat. If making savory bites, let cool for 5 minutes before serving with the cheese sauce.
For the cheese sauce:
- While making the pretzels, begin the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for one minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.