Friday, September 9, 2011

Pretzel Bites and Beer Cheese Dip

I'm still trying to like football.  I can make it through about half a game before my mind wanders to other things that I could be doing instead of watching football.  

I do like making food for football games though.  Pulled pork sandwiches, potato skins, nachos have all been part of my menu before, but I've never baked anything for a football party.  Since Thursday was the start of football and the Packers (my husband's favorite team) were playing, I decided to start the season off with these fun little pretzels and beer cheese dip.

I found them on the Sunny Side Up in San Diego Blog, which I seem to have an obsession with lately.  I followed a combination of her recipe and the recipe though because I only dipped them in the water and the baking soda.

Soft Pretzel Bites
Adapted from and Sunny Side Up in San Diego 
4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water

1) In a bowl dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Set aside. (Mixture should become foamy, if it doesn't your yeast may be bad or your water too hot)

2)In the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugars, and salt on low speed. Turn off the mixer and pour the yeast mixture and melted butter into the bowl. Turn the mixer on and knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry, add extra water, a tablespoon at a time.

3) Lightly oil a large bowl. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Place the dough ball in the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and allow to rise for one hour (*or until double in size).

4) Towards the end of rising, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper and cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the hot water and baking soda.

5) After the dough has risen, punch down the dough and then knead with hands for one minute. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 12 even portions. Roll each portion into a snake then cut the snake into bite size pieces, about 1 1/2 inches in width.

6) Dip the pieces in the baking soda water and place on the baking sheet (dab the pretzels with a paper towel if they seem too wet) then sprinkle with kosher salt.

7)Bake for 7-8 minutes, until browned.

Beer Cheese Dip Directions
Sunny Side Up in San Diego 
6 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup good quality beer
1 Tbsp horseradish
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2-3/4 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1) Microwave cream cheese for 30-45 seconds until very soft. Stir in the beer, horseradish, and garlic powder. Microwave again for 30-45 seconds. Add the grated cheese and stir until smooth, microwaving again if necessary.

While they were cooking, I thought this was going to be a massive fail.  The bites looked and smelled like little biscuits which I thought meant that they weren't going to taste preztel-like.  When I pulled them out of the oven, I grabbed one off the pan and popped it into my mouth and thought they were amazing.  I don't usually like pretzels.  But these were great. 

We used Easy Street beer, a great wheat beer made close to us.  The beer was very prominent in the cheese, and I thought it tasted amazing.  It was too bad that these finished after dinner, so they were more dessert.  We were too full to eat all of them.  Any normal game they would have disappeared.

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