Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

YUM! These were delicious. My only regret was not making a double batch — the boys watching football on the Sunday I made these had them gone in 10 minutes!!

LOL

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I made some changes to the original recipe — which calls for a significantly fancier “ham” than I used, so please check out the link below for the original recipe.

We also were not impressed with the suggested mustard recipe at the link below, but others may enjoy it. I think next time I’ll just serve them with a variety of standard mustards — yellow, brown, spicy, etc.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

(adapted from Ezra Pound Cake)

Makes 4 dozen

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided

1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)

1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped ham (I used a brown sugar ham)

1/3 to 2/3 cup finely chopped sharp Cheddar, divided

6 cups water

4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 to 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse salt

Dip:

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeños

1 tablespoon mild honey

Directions

– In a large bowl, stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water. Let it stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

– In a small bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.

– Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary.

– Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.

– Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin.

– Gently press one fourth of ham and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces, and transfer to a sheet pan. Make 3 more ropes with remaining dough, ham, and cheese and cut into pieces, transferring to sheet pans. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes (dough will rise slightly).

– Bring water to a boil in a 4-to 5-quart saucepan. Reduce heat until the water is gently simmering, and stir in baking soda. Add pretzel bites to the water in batches, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans.

– Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

– Meanwhile, stir together mustard, jalapeños and honey.

– Brush warm pretzel bites with butter, and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with jalapeño mustard for dipping.

Note: Pretzels can be made 2 weeks ahead and frozen (once cooled). Thaw 30 minutes, then reheat in a 400 degree F oven about 10 minutes.

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