April 18, 2013

Pretzel Bites

I had bookmarked two recipes from Two Peas and Their Pod that were similar: Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites and Pizza Pretzel Bites. I decided to tackle both recipes this week and ended up with three varieties of pretzel bites. I made pizza pretzel bites, which were the family favorite. These would be perfect as an appetizer for a game - the flavors of pizza and pretzels combined. The peanut butter versions are good and definitely taste best the day they are made (as do all soft pretzels). The plain version is tasty as well ... and was the result of me giving up with the more time-consuming process of stuffing the bites with the assistance of my 19-month-old son, who was eating the raw dough as quickly as I cut it ... and then stealing the cheese ... and the pepperoni ...

Pretzel Bites
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. cold water
Coarse sea salt
Pizza Variation
Pepperoni, sliced in half
Cheese, cut into small chunks (less than 1/2 inch)
Peanut Butter Variation
Peanut butter (1/2 cup will handle about 1/3 of a batch)

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour, and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium, and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat, and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one-inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silipat. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash, and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Makes 60+ pretzel bites.

Pizza Variation: 
Flatten each 1-inch piece of dough. Wrap a half slice of pepperoni and a chunk of cheese in each piece of dough. Press the edges together to seal in the pizza ingredients. Continue with the recipe as written above.

Peanut Butter Variation:
Place small dollops (no bigger than 1/2 tsp.) of peanut butter on a baking sheet, and place in the freezer at least 30 minutes. Frozen peanut butter is much easier to stuff than room temperature. Working quickly and leaving the majority of the peanut butter in the freezer, flatten each 1-inch piece of dough. Wrap the dough around a dollop of peanut butter, and press the edges to seal in the peanut butter. Chill the pretzel bites for at least 10 minutes prior to the boiling step, and continue with the recipe as written above.

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