For the past few years on Christmas, we will spend the morning with Corey's family, middle of the day at my Grandparents, and then the evening at our house with just my mom, dad, & sister. Its so nice to have a relaxing ending to the day! As you can imagine we spend all day eating a huge brunch and then a huge lunch/dinner. So the past two years I've just made a few appetizers for us to munch on after we open presents with my family. One of the things I made this year were these awesome pretzel bites with cheddar cheese dip! I had made these Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites for a football game (found via Pinterest), but forgot to photograph them, so you didn't get to see them here! They were really good, but I wanted to mix it up so instead I just made the pretzel dough into bites (with no ham & cheese) and me and my sis made this awesome cheddar cheese dip to dip them in! They were really really good! (Note: I made the dough ahead of time and kept it in the fridge over night. I had trouble with the dough though, I would suggest making the pretzel bites all the way through if you want to make ahead and keep them in the fridge then warm them back up in the oven as suggested below.)
yields: 42-48 bites
Ingredients:1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt
Directions:In a large bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tsp. brown sugar & warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together 2 tbsp. brown sugar and warm milk until brown sugar is dissolved.
Once yeast is foamy, add 2 1/2 cups flour & the milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add remaining flour if dough is too sticky. Turn the dough out to a floured surface and knead a few times, forming a smooth ball. Alternatively, you can knead in a stand mixer with a dough hook briefly until dough is smooth.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm draft free area for 2 hours, until dough doubles in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
Meanwhile, cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside, or just spray with cooking spray.
Once dough has risen, lightly flour a surface for rolling the dough. Turn the dough out and divide into four equal pieces. Roll one section of the dough into a 12×4 inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, roll the dough up tightly as possibly. Cut the dough roll into 1 inch pieces and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 sections of dough.
Once all pieces are cut, let them rest uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium sized pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in baking soda and reduce heat to a simmer. Add pretzels in batches and boil for 20 seconds each, turning once. Pretzels should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pretzels back to baking sheet.
Once all pretzels are boiled, place baking sheet in oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Brush the warm pretzel bites with melted butter & sprinkle with sea salt.
If preparing these ahead of time, you can place the pretzel bites in a 200 degree oven and warm them up for about 10-15 minutes prior to serving. You can keep them in the warm oven until your guests arrive.
Cheddar Cheese Dip
yields the perfect amount for your pretzel bites above :)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of grated Cheddar Cheese
salt & pepper
Melt the butter in a med. size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until blended, and
butter has turned lightly golden brown (3-5 minutes). Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar Cheese until smooth and all of the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, then add garlic powder & cayenne pepper if desired. I added these spices to give it the extra flavor it needed to be really good!