As soon as I saw these little snacks in the October issue of Gourmet (RIP), I knew I would be making them, and soon. I have been dying to try my hand at homemade pretzels, and I loved the idea of having bite sized snacks - add cheese and ham, and I am a happy girl. I just love any sort of bite-sized or single serve food. I love grazing on appetizers and dips all night. In fact, I will be making these again on Thursday for our mini New Year's Eve gathering. My sister and niece are in town visiting, and I know that our girls will love munching on these.
I honestly don't know why I was so intimidated to try pretzels. They were surprisingly easy and painless to put together. You have to plan ahead, but nothing about the recipe is particularly challenging or tedious. The original recipe called for country ham, but my local grocery store didn't carry it. I just bought some smoked ham and diced it. Also, while the jalapeno mustard was tasty, I think next time I will puree it so the jalapenos are better incorporated, and add more honey as well, to give it a sweet finish. I made this change in my version of the recipe below.
I took these to a party to watch my beloved Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets clinch the ACC title, so they are now somewhat of a good luck charm. I guess I will have to make them again when we play Iowa in the Orange Bowl next week.
Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Mustard
adapted from Gourmet, October 2009
makes about 4 dozen
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1 tsp packed brown sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
- 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
- 2 1/2-3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped ham (3 ounces)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped sharp Cheddar
- 6 cups water
- 4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapenos
- 1/4 cup mild honey
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt
Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and the milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
Brush the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a draft free, warm room for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough and stretch into a 12-inch long rope. Flatten and arrange so the long side is facing you. Use the rolling pin or your hands to form a 12x4 inch rectangle. Gently press 1/4 of the ham and cheddar into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.
Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer
Cook pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.
Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes. The cheese might ooze out, but that's okay.
Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt.
To make the jalapeno mustard, pulse the jalapenos in a food processor until finely ground. Add the honey and mustard, and process until evenly mixed.
Serve pretzels warm or at room temperature.