2.03.2011

Tie the Knot: Homemade Pretzels

In keeping with my love for Valentine's Day, I attempted to make a heart shaped snack - stuffed pretzels. Although they were a little more work than I had anticipated, they were fun to make. I found the original recipe in the Food Network Magazine and since I didn't have all the ingredients for their variations, I had to come up with my own. Making pretzels from scratch might sound like too much of a challenge but once you make your first one, you'll strangely become addicted. Thinking of alternate stuffing and tweaking the recipe to make it slightly better will have you making pretzels all month long. So, go buy some ingredients (or make do with what you have in your pantry) and make some heart shaped pretzels for you and your honey!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs 
 For EVERYTHING Pretzels:
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Poppy seeds, for sprinkling
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Onion flakes, for sprinkling
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F), the yeast and agave in a bowl. Set aside 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the whole-wheat flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour and the sea salt. Add 1 egg and the yeast mixture and pulse in 10-second intervals until the dough comes together, about 3 pulses. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead 10 to 12 times, adding up to 3/4 cup more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions; cover with a clean towel.

3. On a floured board, roll out one piece of dough into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, with a shorter side facing you. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheddar across the middle of the dough; fold the bottom third of the dough over the cheese, then sprinkle another 2 tablespoons cheddar over the folded part. Fold the top third of the dough over the cheese. Reroll the dough into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle. Cut into seven 11-by-2-inch strips.

4. One at a time, pinch the cut long edges of each strip together and roll into a 12-inch rope with your hands. Transfer the rope to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Grab the ends and bring them toward each other, forming a U shape, then cross the left end over the right end to make a pretzel shape. Cross the left end over the right again to make a twist in the middle.

5. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough and the remaining cheese, spacing the pretzels 3 inches apart. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes; preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

6. Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Brush the pretzels with the egg; sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion flakes and coarse salt. Bake until browned, 16 to 18 minutes, checking on the pretzels every 5 minutes to avoid over baking.

ALTERNATE STUFFING:
(These are the ones I made)

Cream Cheese, Parmesan and Garlic Powder


Cream Cheese and Pesto

Cream Cheese, Cinnamon and Sugar

Like I said, there are so many stuffing options you can make. I didn't make the Everything Pretzels but I did make the three pictured above. It's the exact same process as making the pretzels as directed but when you get to step 3, spread cream cheese in the middle of the rectangle of dough (and truly, stay in the middle),  add your other ingredients, and continue to follow directions. 

Out of the three flavors I made, the cinnamon and sugar was my favorite - probably because it tasted like dessert and tasted the best with the wheat flour. If I were to make these again, I might skip out on the wheat flour and go to all white. I know, it's not as healthy but it would just taste better with the other ingredients. Also, have some sauces available or whip some up for dipping. A marinara would be delicious with the pesto and the parmesan garlic and a sugar glaze would be the perfect addition to the cinnamon sugar.

p.s. The cinnamon sugar pretzel would be a great addition to a Sunday brunch!


Original Recipe: Guy Fieri via Food Network Magazine
Photos: Love.Inspire.Create

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