02.12.12_Soft Pretzel Bites and Kale Chips
Several weeks ago a picture of soft pretzel bites appeared on my Google Reader and I died. As a kid one of my all time favorite snacks were these soft pretzel bites that had cheese in the middle. They always remind me of summer and I would eat an entire box in one sitting. When I saw the post for Soft Pretzel Bites and Cheese Dipping sauce I knew I would have to make this. I originally thought that the Super Bowl would be a good venue but our friend Amanda had already planned on making them (what are the chances?!) so I decided to hold off. After another week of waiting I decided I could not wait anymore. I decided that the Grammys would be a perfect excuse to stuff my face with them. Phillip also wanted to make something for our exclusive viewing party and smartly decided to use the leftover kale from our ginormous bag we had bought for the Mac and Cheese Style Cauliflower and Sauteed Kale to make kale chips.
The pretzel dough recipe called for:
* 1 1/2 cups warm
* 1 tbsp sugar
* 2 tsp kosher salt
* 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
* 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
* 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
* Vegetable oil
I do not have a fancy Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough attachment so I had to tackle this by hand. After combining all the ingredients, I kneaded the dough for a few minutes before placing the dough in an oiled bowl and covering to let rise for a little under an hour. As the hour came to a close, I preheated the oven to 425° and put 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup of baking soda into a large pot. As I waited for the water to boil I prepared the pretzel bites. I had to divide the dough into eight equal parts, then roll them onto into long ropes (it looked identical to when I made the Homemade Gnocchi). Then I cut the ropes into inch long pieces and covered them with a wet paper towel to prevent them from drying.
Once the water was boiling, I dropped a spoonful of the pretzel bites into the pot. I was worried they would all stick together as I piled them up onto the spoon but with a quick stir they all separated. I stirred constantly, helping the bites flip over within the water, and after 30 seconds, removed with a slotted spoon, drained, and put onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I repeated this until they were all boiled. While I finished boiling the bites, Phillip melted 2 Tbsp of butter and brushed each bite with the butter before sprinkling with salt. We then baked them for about 12 minutes and then were nice and brown.
As the bites were baking I made the cheese sauce. It was just your classic sauce like if you were to make homemade mac and cheese. Melt 2 tbsp butter, whisk in 2 tbsp of flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk in a cup of milk. After the sauce has thickened, add 2 cups of shredded cheddar, then season with some S&P. These pretzels were AMAZING. The recipe made two full baking sheets of bites and Phillip and I ate an entire baking sheet in one sitting. So. Good. It took a lot of self control not to keep eating them. We were so excited to eat them we forgot to take a picture of them in the bowl with the cheese sauce. Whoops.
For the kale chips, Phillip put the oven to 275°, then lined the baking sheets with foil. We took out any of the stems and then spread out the kale on the baking sheets. He drizzled the kale with some EVOO then we salted and decided to add some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick. They baked for 20 minutes and Phillip flipped them about half way through. I was a little skeptical about these but they were delicious and could not have been easier, even though they did not photograph well.