Soft Pretzel Bites with Smoked Cheese Dip

Bite-sized soft pretzels dipped in smoked cheese – if I can’t get your attention with just the title of this post, I’m not sure we’ll ever be friends.  There’s nothing not to love about this recipe, it’s pretty simple, makes a lot of bite-sized pretzels for you to serve (this recipe made 119 bites, for me), and gets dipped in a smokey cheese sauce that’ll make your eyes roll up in your head.  I covered most of mine with the traditional salt, but I had a little bit of everything bagel topping left over from my everything bagels and everything focaccia that I used to sprinkle about a third of a tray with – delicious, and I’m sure lots of other toppings would work nicely with pretzels, too.

BIG thanks to Two Peas in Their Pod, which is where I found this recipe and is simply lovely…check them out.  I made these bites to bring to my friend Grace’s birthday party (happy birthday, Grace!) – she requested something savory that involved smoked cheese, and who am I but someone who delivers?  I take requests!

Bites 8

Yield:  About 100-120 bites

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Ingredients

Soft Pretzels:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda (for boiling the pretzels)
  • 1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Everything bagel topping (optional – recipe here)

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces apple smoked Gruyere (or any smoked cheese), grated

Bites 5

Directions

  • Combine the 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined.  Let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined.  Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes.  If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and shape into a ball with your hands.
  • Oil a bowl with vegetable or olive oil, add the dough, and turn to coat with the oil.  Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bites 1

  • Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and carefully add the baking soda.  It will boil over, so add slowly and be careful!
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface.  Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each.  Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape.  Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites.

Bites 2

  • Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time.  Boil for about 30 seconds.  Remove with a large slotted spoon.  Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been covered with foil and/or sprayed with cooking spray.  Make sure they are not touching.  Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt and/or everything bagel topping.  Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Bites 4

  • While the pretzels are baking, make the cheese dip:  melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until smooth and all of the cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Remove the cooked pretzel bites and put them on a wire rack.  Let rest 5 minutes before eating.  Serve with cheese dip.

Bites 7

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