Monday, January 3, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

I already discussed my love for pretzels here. But, I don't just love hard pretzels but soft pretzels as well. A few years ago Paul and I went on an East Coast baseball tour including baseball games in Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. When in Philadelphia I was so excited to have a famous Philadelphia soft pretzel. I was born in the Philly area and had memories of hot, steamy soft pretzels from street vendors. When we got to the baseball game, I was disappointed to see that the pretzels at the ball park were "Super-Pretzels" . I can get those anywhere :(

Following the game, we saw a street vendor selling soft pretzels by the subway station. We quickly whipped out the cash for my guilty pleasure. As we were walking onto the subway I opened up my foil package to take the first tasty bite. Much to my disappointed surprise, my pretzel was ice cold. Needless to say, this was a low point of that vacation.

For New Years Eve each year, a group of our friends get together at someones house to ring in the new year. We each bring an appetizer-y dish to share and pig out. Appetizers are notoriusly unhealthy options - nachos, cheese dips, cocktail wienies, etc. I thought it would be a good idea to bring a healthier option, without being OVERLY "health food". I decided to make these pretzel bites found on Two Peas and Their Pod, without any alterations, to provide a lower fat, moderate calorie snack.

Homemade Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 pkg active dry yeast
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water
coarse sea salt

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combine. 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 beings to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 Tbsp at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead to a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towl or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites (I used a pizza cutter). Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches, 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the coarse salt. (Good two-person job, I boiled the bites as Paul brushed and sprinkled them). Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. I wrapped them into a big pouch of foil and reheated once we got to the party in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Makes 15 servings, 10 bites each. Each serving provides:
182 calories
5.0 g fat
30.3 g carbohydrate
1.1 g fiber
4.0 g protein

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