Monday, May 19, 2014

How To Make Stuffed Pretzels

There is something about soft pretzels. They are probably one of my top ten favorite foods. Mainly because they feel like a real treat. It's not everyday that you get a soft pretzel. And I never order them out, because I know they aren't fresh. Don't try and fool me, restaurant! I know you get your pretzels in a big frozen bag from a restaurant supply store! And those soft pretzel stores in malls? How long have they been twirling around in that case? Days? Weeks? Months? So I generally wait for the homemade ones. Unless beer cheese is involved. Then it's less about the pretzel and more about the beer cheese.

Have you ever had a stuffed pretzel? It's just a soft pretzel stuffed with something yummy. Like cheese. I generally go for cheese.

I decided to do a little stuffed pretzel tutorial for you all. I made these the other night for dinner (hello, add a salad and this is a meal!). What is so great about stuffed pretzels, besides how super yummy they are, is the fact that you can make them any way you want. I decided to make an Olie themed stuffed pretzel and a Meredith themed stuffed pretzel. Olie's filling: pepperoni, ham, sautéed onion and garlic. Meredith's filling: cream cheese and ham. This was mostly just stuff I had in my fridge that I needed to get rid of. So raid your fridge and get creative.

It doesn't matter if you have never made homemade pretzels before. It's a pretty simple process. So just go for it.

Soft pretzels were one of my very first recipes here on The Starving Artist (almost two years ago!), so for the dough, I'm just going to link you to that recipe: click here. (I've also made pretzels dogs, which are equally amazing).

So you've made your dough and have let it rise until doubled in size. It's fluffy and elastic and amazing and ready to be stuffed.

Punch down your dough and turn it out onto a clean surface/cutting board. Cut into 12 equal pieces and roll into small balls.
Cover the balls of dough and let rise for ten minutes. Now it's time stuff!

Take a dough ball and roll it into a little square. You will have to pinch it and shape it to get it square, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of stuffing into the center of your dough square. Like this:

Now, pinch the opposite corners of your square together. Pinch the dough together so that your filling won't come out in the cooking process. This is what your pretzel should look like:
Pretty cute right? 

Continue to stuff your pretzel dough. They don't have to be perfect, just make sure you pinch them well. Once all of them are filled, cover and let rise another thirty minutes. 
While they are rising, start boiling 8 cups of water plus 2 tablespoons of baking soda. It takes a while for this much water to boil, so you want to go ahead and get it going. Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease two large cookie sheets.

After your dough is done rising, it's time to boil! Using a slotted spoon or spatula, gently place 2 or 3 pretzels into the simmering water. Wait about 30 seconds, then gently flip them over. Wait another 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels from the water and place on your greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat this process until all of your pretzels have been boiled. Throw them in the oven for about fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.
Voila! Stuffed pretzels! Easy right? This is one of those rock star recipes. They make you look a lot more skilled in the kitchen than you actually are. As my mother in law always says, "if you can't convince them, confuse them."

Any ideas for stuffing? What sounds good to you? I'm always looking for new combinations.

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