If there’s anything better than tortilla chips with cheese dip, it’s pretzels. And when you take warm-out-of-the-oven homemade soft pretzels and pair them with a spicy and cheesy sauce, you have something monumental, and we are here to tell you about it. Roasting jalapeno peppers brings out the best of their flavor, and they are a match made in heaven with cheddar cheese (we used a combo of white and orange cheddar). We’ve made this particular pretzel recipe countless times before, mostly pre-blog era, or at a time of day where pictures were not a possibility. We are glad to finally be posting them, and hope you will try them too! They are actually pretty simple to make, and the results are more than worth it. Don’t skip the dip, though. It is mandatory and shockingly good!
Soft Pretzel Bites with Roasted Jalapeno Cheddar Sauce
For the pretzels:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
22 oz all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
For boiling and garnish:
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 tbsp butter, melted
For the cheese sauce:
2 small jalapeño peppers
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (preferably not pre-shredded)
For the pretzels:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter. Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Place a barely damp towel over the dough and the formed pretzel bites to prevent them from drying out while you form the other pretzel bites.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an wide 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
Using a flat spatula, gently lower the pretzel bites into the boiling water and boil them for 30 seconds. Depending on the size of your pot, boil 2 to 4 pretzels at a time. Remove the pretzels from the water using the spatula, drain as best you can over the pot, and place them on the baking sheets. Brush the top of each pretzel with some melted butter and sprinkle with the Kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Lightly brush pretzels with the remaining melted butter immediately after you remove them from the oven. Serve warm.
For the cheese sauce:
Set the jalapeños on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Or, you roast them over a gas burner on the stove, turning with tongs. Place the jalapeños in a heatproof bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to cool for 15 minutes then with a paper towel, peel and discard the blackened skins off leaving just the fleshy peppers remaining. Slice, remove and discard the seeds, and roughly chop the peppers. Set aside.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the chopped jalapeños to coat with the butter. Whisk in the flour, coating the peppers, and cook for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps of flour remain. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the shredded cheese until all of the cheese has melted. Add a pinch of salt, if needed. Serve warm with the pretzels. The sauce can be kept warm for 15 to 20 minutes over very low heat on the stove, stirring occasionally. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave on medium power at 30 second intervals. Enjoy!