Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

Sometimes people ask me how I have time to cook all the time.  Or how I have time to cook such elaborate things.

In some ways, I do see people's point.  Making things like pretzel bites, doesn't make too much sense.  They aren't that easy.  Not to mention, that aren't all that necessary.  And I do often make unnecessary things like pretzel bites, because I think it is fun.  And I knew my little sister would like them.

But in general, I cook all the time because we need to eat.  And I don't understand how some people eat but don't cook.  How does that even work?  Sometimes I wonder when people say they don't cook if they mean they just eat out.  Or maybe they mean the just eat cereal and PB&J's?  Or maybe they mean they just make salads and sandwiches?  Or maybe they mean they eat frozen pizzas and hungry-man?  Or maybe they mean they eat Reese's and Doritos?  So many options.

I do know that I do have time to cook/prepare food.  It is almost always at night.  It is almost always dark outside (no matter what the season).  I am always in a hurry.  But there is no other option, food doesn't have to be convenient, yo!

As I was making these, I was cursing in my head about how long they took and how we needed to be done before our movie.  Story of my life.  My little sister helped out.  We got them done and eaten before the movie.  They were delicious.  They smell amazing.  They might be a good party appetizer if you make them in advance and warm them quickly in the oven before serving.  I wouldn't want to mess with boiling and baking them while the guests were there.

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites

1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115°F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115°F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped ham (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar)
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt

Combine the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Set aside until foamy, 5-8 minutes. (If using the instant yeast, you can skip this step and just add it to the flour.) In another bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.

Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12°—4-inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press 1/4 of the ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has the filling. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of the dough.

Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Again, if using instant yeast you may choose to skip this step as it only requires one rise.) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once.  They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Servings: 48 bites, Prep time: 3.5 hrs., Bake time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Cindy (taste):  7/10
Effort: 3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5


  1. People ask me the same question...when it comes down to it...it is something that I love! Thank you for sharing another yummy treat with me. We adore soft pretzels around here. I'm glad to start my day by visiting your blog! I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday full of laughter and good food!

  2. Me too! I mean, I don't even think I'm that good about it. I cook Mon-Thurs and sometimes Saturday we stay in but people are always like "Oh I don't have time to cook meals like that" Maybe they're on a jimmy johns diet? and I'm not anywhere near and all-star cook but don't you hate when you go out to eat and your meal doesn't taste any better than something you could make? ok im done ranting but Brians on a pretzel bite kick (he ordered like $30 worth from some neighbor kids fundraiser magazine and those are gone...) so i bet he would looove these.