Love letter #9, date night pretzels

Soft pretzels have always held a special place in my heart. I can remember when I was little and had a cookbook for kids, my dad and I made soft pretzels one weekend. We made one for every person in the house and shaped them into the initial of their first name.

On mine and Alex’s first date (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, about seven years ago), I ordered a soft pretzel with cheese and I remember Alex looking at me like, “What?! A pretzel at the movies?” I may be pretentious about most pre-made or packaged foods, but you can’t come between me and my stadium nacho cheese.

Alex and I don’t go to movies that often—he prefers to stay at home and watch (and save money!) and I hate that I have to get there 30 minutes early to ensure I have the perfect seat. Over countless weekends I’ve began to perfect our date night movie treats. Yummy popcorn and these soft pretzels with beer cheese.

Unlike cooking which has always come somewhat naturally to me, baking is hard. I don’t like it, but I do it because of how thrilled I am with the final product. Baking and cooking are just science, but baking is much more exact. But when you start to understand how each individual ingredients reacts with each other and why, it makes it seem less intimidating.

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The first time I made homemade soft pretzels and Alex and I tried them at the same time, we both just looked at each other in amazement. They tasted like soft pretzels! There are so few ingredients and the ingredients are so similar to other breads and bagels I’ve made, I didn’t understand how they could have that distinct pretzel flavor.

They’re totally decadent and a total pub treat. They’re also very easy. So few ingredients and your Kitchen-Aid does all the work. You just have to twist, boil, and bake.

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I twist the pretzels because I prefer the super fluffy inside dough. When twist them into a traditional pretzel shape, they have more of the crust, and less of the dough. You can do whatever you prefer.

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Use a fish spatula to easily drop and take them out of boiling water. 

Mustard or mustard powder is the secret ingredient in many gourmet macaroni and cheese dishes. The mustard enhances the cheese flavor and adds a little something special. You can add more mustard to this depending on your tastes.

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Grate your cheese in a food processor. You do not want pre-shredded cheese for this. It’ll never melt and the texture will be grainy. 

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Stay in next Saturday night. Grab your coziest blankets, put on your softest pajamas, blast the A/C, turn off all the nights, and settle in with these pretzels and cheese and a good movie. You’ll want to do this every weekend. Enjoy.

Soft pretzels here

Beer cheese

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 18 oz beer
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese

 

 

 

Melt butter in large sauce pan. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, cook for one minute. Add flour, whisk vigorously until incorporated, two minutes. Add beer, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Bring to a boil then simmer for four minutes. Add seasonings. On low heat, add 1/3 of all of the cheeses and whisk until incorporated. Repeat until cheese is gone. Serve warm.