March 28, 2010

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

These take a little time and effort to make, but they are SO worth it.  My husband and I just ate almost half of them...after eating supper!  

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites - slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups whole wheat flour

For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded cheese of your choice 

To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until a dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise.  Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside.  Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 2o seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. 

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