Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites

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
Stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl.  Set aside until foamy, 5-8 minutes.  In another bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tablespoons brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

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.


Anonymous said...

I was just wondering what I was going to do with some leftover ham I have...and THIS is the answer! Thank you!!

Sara said...

These look awesome! Do you know if you can make the dough ahead of time? I'd like to make it for NYE... but I have to work that day. Would I be able to make some of it tonight for tomorrow's party?

Ange said...

These look great!

Josie said...

Hi Sara,

You can make them completely ahead of time, then freeze. To reheat, thaw 30 minutes, then bake at 400 about 10 minutes.

I've also refrigerated dough after the second rise. So maybe after you fill the dough with ham and cheese, then cut into bites, cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and chill? I have never done that with this particular recipe, but that is the method I have used with cinnamon rolls or dinner rolls.

Good luck!

Cookie said...

These are so cute! I like appetizers that you can serve at room temperaturem so you don't have to wait for your guests to arrive before popping them into the oven. I like having as much as I can done beforehand.

natalie said...

yum! might have to try this out- definitely have tons of ham left over, so this will work out perfect!!

Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

I am a self-admitted addict of all that is mini. I love these and can't wait to try them.

Mike said...

Go Hawks! :)

Unknown said...

These sound amazing. I can't wait to make my own batch!

Tia said...

omg i wantr to make these too but they qre daunting. since you said they're easy, i'll have to give it a shot!

Memória said...

I, too, have been wanting to make pretzels (and bagels) for the longest, but I'm not crazy about either items; I just wanted the experience. Now that I've finally made bagels, I can make these pretzels instead of the regular-sized ones. I know I could eat these a lot faster than the other kinds. Thanks for posting the recipe from Gourmet (RIP <- too cute!) and for the lovely, delectable photo.

Katie K. said...

Mmm..I just saw this post and those look sooo good!!! I will definitely be trying this recipe out soon!

Christina and Jacob said...

These look really delicious! I can't wait to try these out.

MaSheddy said...

These look yummy. I have all ingredients on hand. Just wondering what type of dipping sauce you prepared? TIA

Josie said...

Hi MaSheddy,I made a jalapeno honey mustard, and the recipe is included in the post :-)

Anonymous said...

What is the baking soda and water for??

JB said...

Love this recipe. I made it last weekend. We ate some, refrigerated some and froze some. We preferred the ones that were "reheated" to the originals. Brushing the butter on once they have baked seems to soften them a little. Reheating to a darker brown gives them a chewier pretzel consistency. If you don't have time to thaw before re-heating, just pop them into a cold oven and let them thaw as you bring the temp up to about 400 then cook another 5-10 minutes.

I made a dipping sauce from peach preserves, ground mustard, tabasco and worchestershire. Delicious.

This recipe is definitely a "keeper". My brain is going wild thinking of other fillings. Thanks.

P.S. for the commentor above me. The baking soda in the boiling water allows the pretzels to brown more easily when baking and helps to create the chewy, pretzel consistency.

ThatPinkHouse said...

I made these, omitting the ham and doubling the cheese. Heaven! I will be trying with a cheese and jalapeno filling next! Thanks for the recipe.

Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet said...

Perfect for football parties!

Heather said...

Made 2 batches tonight for a party. Wonderful! Thanks for the great recipe and tips about freezing and serving.

Karen Marie said...

Sadly, I cannot remember how I came across your blog, but am happy to have found it. When you mentioned the October 2009 issue, I thought "Hmm, why does that sound familiar?" Then I remembered, it was the issue with the fabulous apple on the cover. As luck would have it, I happen to have that issue! I like the changes you've made and will give this a try. Thank you!

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