Soft Pretzels and Beer Cheese
Comin’ at you with maybe the BEST, most indulgent snack on the planet—Soft Pretzels and Beer Cheese. It hits all the right marks:
Dip-able (a favorite snack category in my opinion)
and of course, CHEESY
Learning to make pretzels is probably one of the best and worst things we’ve ever done. For Luke’s birthday last year, we had an Oktoberfest-themed party, which of course required unbelievable amounts of pretzels. And having decided the theme too late to order pretzels on time, we resorted to Alton Brown’s Soft Pretzel recipe.
About a week before the party, we tested the recipe and immediately fell in love. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Luke so giddy over any recipe we’ve ever tried. We both may have shed a tear or two. “How can something so delicious be so easy?!”
It turns out, pretzels are just a simple yeasted dough. Which is then rolled into snakes, cut (and twisted into pretzels, if desired) , boiled in a baking soda bath, then baked for a few minutes!
So really, for how delicious fresh, hot, soft pretzels are… easy! Until we had to make 3 batches of them. In a week. Whew. Needless to say, they were easy, but we didn’t attempt them for awhile after.
Fast-forward to today and it’s Beer Week here in Saratoga Springs! So we’re celebrating once again with Soft Pretzels and Beer Cheese (and a cold one of course!). This time though, we’re
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- Vegetable oil for the bowl and pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- Sea salt
Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase to medium and knead for 4-5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl, pour in 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl around the bowl. Return the dough to the bowl, spin in the oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 450ª F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a 12-inch saute pan or a roasting pan (anything wide and shallow!).
Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope about 1-inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces (they'll shrink up a bit as cut, no worries!)
In batches of 6-8, place the pretzel nuggets in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each bite with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving or let cook and reheat in the oven before serving.
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 2/3 cup beer pale ale is preferred, but anything works!
- 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 oz. fontina cheese shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- salt to taste
In a medium sauce pan, heat the butter until melted. Stir in the flour and let cook for 2 minutes.
Add in the milk and beer and let cook for 3 minutes. Add in the shredded cheese slowly and stir often. Let thicken for 15 minutes.
Season with the garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, cayenne, crushed red pepper and salt.