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Soft Pretzels with Nacho Cheese

"This is a classic American snack and really isn't difficult to make." ~ Jennifer Loiseau (Photo provided)

Soft pretzels are a snack found at all sporting events, movie theaters and even your freezer. The crispy outside and soft inside makes this a classic American snack.

Soft Pretzels with Nacho Cheese
Makes: 8
Prep: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep: 60 minutes
Bake: 12 to 14 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water, 110 to 115 degrees
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
8 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sea salt or pretzel salt

Nacho Cheese:
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3 jalapeños, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, add in the warm water, sugar, salt and active dry yeast – do not stir. Allow for mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Then add in the flour and butter; mix on low speed with a dough hook for a minute or two to combine all of the ingredients. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and allow for the dough to knead for 4 minutes.

Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place into a pre-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area for 60 minutes to allow the dough to double in size. (I like to turn my oven on to the lowest temperature and place the dough next to the warm oven.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After the dough has risen, place onto a pre-greased surface and cut into 8 equal parts. Shape the dough into pretzel shapes by rolling out the dough into a 20-inch rope, forming an upside down “U”, bringing the ends together and twisting them. Then, bring the ends to the top of the pretzel; repeat the process with the other pretzel dough.

In a large pot, add the water and baking soda and bring to a boil. Drop the formed pretzel into the water/baking soda mixture, one at a time, and boil for 30 seconds. Take the pretzel out with a spatula and place on a baking sheet lined with pre-greased parchment paper; repeat the process for the remaining pretzels. (This is an important step as this will help give the pretzel texture on the outside while keeping it soft in the middle; it also gives it that signature flavor.)

Mix together water and egg, then spread over the top of the pretzels evenly and sprinkle sea salt or pretzel salt over top.

Place the pretzels into a preheated oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.

While the pretzels are baking, turn the stove top to a medium heat and place a large sauce pan on top. Add the butter and flour into the pan and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute. Slowly add in the milk and whisk vigorously. Add in the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy your warm pretzels out of the oven with your nacho cheese!

*Other flavor combinations:
Cinnamon Sugar with White Frosting
Parmesan Cheese with Marinara
Italian Seasoning with Marinara
Garlic Seasoning with Marinara
Salt and Butter with Nacho or Cheddar Cheese

Video link: www.amateurkitchen.tv/Soft_Pretzels.html
 

Jen and Maria Loiseau star in their own how-to cooking videos on their website, www.amateurkitchen.tv. With more than 200 recipes and more than 90 how-to cooking videos, they  have created a one-stop site for all meal and entertaining needs. Twice a month, they'll share some of their recipes with Kane County Magazine.