Gooey Cheese Stuffed Pretzels
I hope Valentine’s Day treated you well! I may have made a bit of a misstep with my celebratory social media post this year. It was a pretty typical Wednesday with exception of delivering a meal to my dear friend who just had her second baby (he is the cutest!!) and that my husband (who I may have neglected to previously mentioned coaches three high school sports) actually made it home before I did. All in all it was a great evening that centered around a dinner of homemade chili and grilled cheeses. Yup. We overindulged in a big way (but what could be a better way to celebrate the hallmark holiday of love than ooey gooey cheese?).
Here lies the misstep. You see when you start a food blog, and are trying to hone in your food photography skills (still working on that by the way) your social media posts become mainly food oriented. So with my food photo blinders on, I created a Valentines Day ode to cheese. My instagram post declared the creamy dairy delight as one of my very favorite things. Which, of course, is true. But in retrospect (and after the mock shock of my husband) I probably could have at least listed him as one of my favorite things on Valentines Day as well. Oops!
Well here ya go babe, this week’s recipe is dedicated to you! These ooey gooey cheese stuffed pretzels are one of my husband’s favorite snacks. I make them every year, on one of his favorite days, the Super Bowl.
Between waiting for the batter to rise, and stuffing the dough, these babies do become a labor of love, but I think that makes them even more special.
I have tried plenty of pretzel recipes and this one is by far my favorite. The addition of powdered sugar gives the pretzels a slightly sweet and addictive taste. Not the healthiest, but we all deserve to indulge now and then.
Then I knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and even. This can take some time, usually around 10 minutes. Once you are done working the dough, it will need to be put in a warm place to rise for about an hour. According to the original recipe the dough should be held at 80 degrees F. I don’t know about you, but here in mid Michigan our home does not hit 80 until mid summer.
I typically put the dough in a bowl, cover it with a towel, and place it in the warmest place in the kitchen. If the dough doesn’t seem to be rising you can use some tricks like preheating the oven to its lowest setting, shutting the oven off, and setting the bowl inside.
While I wait for the dough to rise I mix up the filling. I like to go a savory route to offset the sweetness of the pretzel. The great thing here is that you can get creative and make just about anything to fill these, pizza sauce and mozz cheese, shredded apple and sharp cheddar, spinach and artichoke dip, the list goes on… But here’s my go to:
- 1/2 block of softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 green onions finely chopped
Mix well, and your stuffing is made. Note here: sometimes I need to make extra filling just depending on how thinly I roll out the dough, or how well it rises.
Now Let’s make a Pretzel…
Grab a chunk of the dough, roll it into a log and press it flat. From here make a line of filling down the center of the log, pinch the sides and ends back together, and re-roll the log until the seams appeared sealed.
From here you have two options. You can use the whole log and twist it into a pretzel or cut the log into bite sized pieces. I like the bite sized option when I am going to share with several people. Just be sure to pinch the ends closed!
The secret to a great pretzel is getting that lovely golden brown crust.
While some people will tell you to broil the pretzels, the only way to really make the crust happen is with a baking soda bath. There is some science to this, but basically dunking the pretzels in a hot alkaline soak will created a coating that hardens into a brown crust, and leaves a soft chewy interior.
As you can see from the photo above, this can get a bit messy. The good news is that the baking soda splatter is easily wiped up afterward. To make a baking soda bath you will need a shallow pot that will allow the pretzels to be completely submerged. Add two cups of water to the pot and bring to a low boil, then add 1/2 cup of baking soda, slowly. Once the baking soda has dissolved drop the pretzels one by one into the solution. Each pretzel should spend just under a minute in the bath.
Then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Pop into a oven that has been preheated to 425 and bake for 10 minutes or until they are a lovely golden brown.
Creamy Cheese Stuffed Pretzels
- 4 cups flour plus extra for kneading
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/4 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/2 block cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 2 green onions, chopped
Mix sugar into the warm water until completely dissolved. Add yeast and mix until dissolved. Set aside and allow the yeast to activate for 5 minutes.
Once yeast has activated (it should begin to foam at the top) add melted butter and salt. Stir well.
Mix flour, powdered sugar and slowly fold in the liquid mixture. Mix together until a dough forms. Form the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let proof in a warm room until double in size (about an hour).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove dough ball from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is no longer sticky.
To create pretzels roll out a log of dough and press flat.
For filling mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and green onion. Spoon out a small amount of mixture on the flatten dough. Pinch dough closed and roll back into a log. Cut the log into bite sized pieces and pinch the ends closed.
To create a nice brown crust bathe each pretzel in a baking soda bath before baking. Do this by adding 2 tbsps baking soda to 2 cups boiling water, and submerging the pretzels for 30 seconds each.
Bake pretzels for 8-10 minutes until browned. If you wish garnish pretzels with rock salt.
So there you have it, the perfect indulgent treat to share with someone you love! Give them a try and let me know in the comments how they turned out.