Sep 8, 2012

whole wheat pretzel bites in a white beer cheese sauce


I've been pretty much the worst blogger ever last week.  I know.  But that streak is about to end.  I've come up with quite the pretty little list of tasty treats to make.  It's really all about the recipe ideas.  They're either there or they're not.  They're finally back after a crazy beginning of the semester long vacation.  I hope they went somewhere nice.

Anyways, here's a different and much healthier version of these.  (Although, enjoying these in a healthy quantity can get a little tricky.)  They're just as good as the less-than-healthy original and maybe even cheesier.  They do take a little time to make, but the recipe is pretty much foolproof.

P.S. I'm crazy about this dough.  It's so soft, smooth, and pretty.  You will be too.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzel Bites in a White Beer Cheese Sauce
Based on this recipe
Makes about 80 pretzel bites and 3-4 c cheese sauce

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzel Ingredients
*I would recommend doubling the pretzel recipe to use up all of the cheese sauce.  Freeze the leftovers*

  • 1 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • olive oil
  • 2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling on top, optional)
  • 6 c water
  • 3 tbsp baking soda 

To make the pretzels, combine the warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (with the dough hook attachment).  Let the yeast start to bubble.  In the meantime, coat a large bowl with  a thin layer of olive oil and set aside.  In another large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the dry mixture to the stand mixer with the yeast.  Mix the dough on low until everything's combined, then speed up the mixer to medium and let it combine for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic.  Once the dough is ready, place it in the olive oil bowl, turning the dough over so that it's coated with the oil.  Cover the dough and let it rise for about a half hour, until doubled in size.

In the mean time, line two baking sheet with parchment paper that's lightly coated with olive oil.  Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface.  To make pretzel bites, cut the dough ball into 4 pieces, roll each one out to about 18" and cut off 1" slices to form the pretzel bites (they will grow significantly as they rise again, boil, and bake, so if you want them smaller in the end, make them smaller now).  Put the pretzel bites on the prepared baking sheets.

Cover the pretzels with a cloth and allow them to rise once again, about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Also, in a large saucepan, begin to boil the 6 cups of water.

Once the pretzels are done rising, carefully pour the baking soda into the water (the water will bubble up when the baking soda is added, so be careful!).  Stir the baking soda into the water.  Carefully place about 20 bites into the water at a time.  Boil the pretzels for about one minute, flip them over (the bottoms get darker, so it's easy to be sure all have been flipped), and boil them one more minute.  Once they're boiled, remove them from the water, drain extra water from them, and place them back onto the baking sheets.  Continue until everything's been boiled.

Bake the pretzels for about 12-15 minutes, one sheet at a time, until they're medium to dark brown.  Allow them to cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with the cheese sauce.  Store extra pretzels at room temperature or freeze them.  They can be reheated well in the oven.

White Beer Cheese Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c yellow onion, pureed
  • 2 cloves garlic,pureed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp white whole wheat flour
  • 2 c beer (I used a light beer, but any will work)
  • 1 c skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 c mozzarella cheese, grated (more or less for taste or thickness)

To make the beer sauce, puree the onion and garlic and set aside.  Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf.  Allow them to cook for about 4 minutes, until the onions are becoming translucent, but nothing is browning yet.  Add the flour and mix everything well, whisking constantly for about 2 more minutes.  Add the beer and whisk it in well, until the flour mixture is broken up.  Add the cream as you continue to whisk.  Add the pepper, cloves and nutmeg.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it continue to cook down for 30-60 minutes (longer for a thicker sauce).Whisk the sauce every few minutes during this time.

Remove the bay leaf from the sauce after it's done simmering.  Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cheese, mixing it in with a spoon until it's smooth.  Serve warm with the soft pretzel bites.  Store extra sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator.  This sauce will easily reheat in the microwave.

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