Soft Pretzels & Beer Cheese

Soft Pretzels

Janna:  I love soft pretzels.   I’m a sucker for the ones at the mall that are served with piping hot spicy “cheese!”  So when Joanie and I were discussing great Super Bowl food, naturally I thought of soft pretzels.  They are fairly easy to make, and go great with cheese or assorted mustards for dipping.  Plus you can make them the day before you need them.  In this case I am pairing pretzels with beer cheese!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ tsp)
  • 4 ⅓ to 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • Large pot of water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt or coarse kosher salt

Directions:

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for a few minutes or until the mixture begins to get bubbly.  Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth, approximately 4 minutes.

Oil a large bowl with vegetable oil, put dough into oiled bowl and turn once, coating with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 45 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets or large shallow pans, spray lightly with cooking spray or lightly coat with vegetable oil.  Set aside.

Bring the water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart sauce pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface (I spray my clean counter top with cooking spray) and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other until each end is back where it started and press onto the bottom of the U to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the cookie sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for about 30 seconds each. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula.

Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for about 7 minutes before serving.  These are easily reheated in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes.  I don’t recommend reheating them in the microwave because they will get soggy.  Below you will find the recipe for beer cheese.  Enjoy!!

Beer Cheese

So, I did a little research on beer cheese and discovered that it originated in Kentucky in the 1940’s.  It’s been a Kentucky staple ever since!  I’ve put my own spin on this beer cheese, adding cream cheese for a creamier texture.  Also, please note that this works best using a cheaper beer and it works best when beer is at room temperature and flat.  Mine was cold so I put it in a microwave safe cup and microwaved it till room temp and then stirred it a lot to flatten it.  I used Pabst in mine, you can use whatever you like!


(Note: picture shows a mini food processor, it ended up being too small so
I used a bowl with emursion blender instead).

Ingredients:

½ Lb sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1-2 small garlic cloves (minced)
2 tsp Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or any hot sauce)
¼ tsp worcestershire sauce
½ tsp cayenne pepper (add more to taste if you like it spicier)
½ tsp dry mustard
8 oz flat beer (room temperature)

Start by combining the cheddar and cream cheese in a large bowl.  use emulsifier, food processor or hand mixer to blend together until creamy 20-30 seconds.  Add all ingredients except beer and combine.  when well blended, slowly add beer and mix.  Add more hot sauce and cayenne pepper if you like it spicier.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  To heat, you can either microwave for about 20 seconds at a time until hot, or on low heat on stove top being careful not to scorch.

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