Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeño Mustard

These little pretzel bites are delicious and adorable. They make great hors d'oeuvres because kids and adults both love them and you can fill them with whatever you want. While I was rolling these, I was fantasizing about stuffing them with brie and raspberries. And even though the ham and cheddar was really good, I may have to do that one day, just to make that fantasy a reality. You've heard dream big or go home...I went home (and ate pretzel bites).

Makes 4 dozen hors d’oeuvres or snacks

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115º F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115º F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 cup finely chopped country ham (3 oz; preferably Newsom’s or Benton’s), divided
1/3 cup finely chopped sharp cheddar cheese, divided
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 to 2 tablespoons pretzel salt or coarse salt

Jalapeño Mustard:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeños
1 tablespoon mild honey

1.      Stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 8 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
2.      In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.
3.      Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional flour, a little at a time, if necessary. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and bubbles appear on surface, about 2 hours.
4.      Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Gently press one fourth of ham and cheese into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut rope into 12 pieces and transfer to a sheet pan (leave about an inch between pieces, the dough will rise slightly). Repeat with remaining dough, ham, and cheese. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
5.      Preheat oven to 400º F. with rack in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
6.      Bring about 6 cups water to a boil in a 4- to 5-qt saucepan. Reduce heat and stir in baking soda. Cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to sheet pans.
7.      Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes (cheese may ooze slightly).
8.      Meanwhile, stir together mustard, jalapeños, and honey (can be made 1 day ahead and chilled).
9.      Brush warm pretzel bites with butter and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with jalapeño mustard for dipping.

Pretzels can be made 2 weeks ahead and frozen (once cooled). Thaw 30 minutes, then reheat in a 400° F. oven about 10 minutes.

from Gourmet, October 2009 by Edward Lee
yeast, brown sugar and water
adding brown sugar to milk
adding flour to yeast mixture
adding milk mixture to flour/yeast
dough mixed
dough rolled into a ball
setting aside the dough in a bowl to rise
dijon mustard, chopped jalapeño & honey
jalapeño mustard
dough - doubled in size
dough - separated into four parts
dough rope
rolled dough

There was no country ham at the store,
so I went with a really good Italian ham.
spreading the ham and cheese
filling spread; ready to roll
cut into pieces
on sheetpan
a little puffier after resting for 30 minutes
about to drop in boiling water/baking soda
boiling & turning
removing with a slotted spoon
boiled on a sheetpan
brushing with butter

I think the butter is added just so the salt will stick.
Next time I might try sprinkling the salt on before
baking and see if it sticks without the butter.
sprinkling with salt

I used the coarsest salt I had (fleur de sel).
dipping in jalapeño mustard

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