Party with Homemade Pretzels!
The best part about football is the FOOD. Don’t get me wrong, I like watching the game as much as the next person (possibly even more, when the Seahawks are playing) but the snacks at tailgates, stadiums, and watch parties are the most exciting part besides the event itself. Every year I like to challenge myself to make new and exhilarating Super Bowl snacks for everyone to enjoy, and this year is no different. Of course, the football cooking extravaganza has been going on all month… and last week it was all about the pretzel.
Pretzels are always good, but pretzels with cheese sauce are better. Last weekend my lovely friend Holly had the brilliant idea to make our own pretzels (yes, with cheese sauce!) so for the first time in my life, I learned how to make homemade pretzels! It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, especially because we followed Alton Brown’s pretzel guide, which of course was hella thorough. The finished pretzels were so, so good. I definitely recommend serving them warm and don’t skimp on the salt! Mmm… salt. Perfect paired with a frosty beer during the game.
If for some reason you don’t want to make the cheese sauce included in this recipe (why not though?!) I recommend serving with dijon mustard or spicy mustard.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
This is closely based off Alton Brown’s pretzel recipe!
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Combine the water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and mix on low using the dough hook attachment until well combined. Lower to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, oil it up, and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a big saucepan.
Meanwhile, divide the pretzel dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope, the original recipe says about two feet but I found it hard to get them that long. Just do your best and it will be fine. Make a U-shape with the pretzel dough rope, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. It’s okay if they don’t look perfect, they’ll still taste great. Place the pretzels onto your parchment-lined baking sheet.
Now it’s time to boil! Gently drop the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Make sure the water is boiling each time you do a new one! Return each boiled pretzel to the baking sheet, liberally brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg wash, and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until the top of the pretzels are dark golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let ’em cool for 5-10 minutes before serving!
2 cups whole milk (or half-and-half if you’re feeling crazy, or skim if you’re feeling healthy, but why are you making pretzels and cheese dip if you’re trying to be healthy, and why are you trying to be healthy at a football party?!)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon good dijon mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once it’s all melted, slowly whisk in your flour while constantly stirring. It should make a paste-like substance. Add the milk, still whisking – the mixture should thicken up (but not be too thick or sticky… if this happens, add a bit more milk!). Add the cheese (still whisking, still whisking!) dijon, and paprika. Keep on stirring until the dip is smooth. Give it a little taste and add salt & pepper to taste… and a little more paprika or some cayenne if you’re feeling spicy!