Let’s have a chat. About important things!
What are you guys doing for the Super Bowl this weekend? And by “doing” I mean EATING. Because, really, that’s the most important part of getting together for this event (unless you’re a Panthers or Broncos fan, I guess. Go team go!). The food and drinks are at the top of my game day list (that is, until my team actually makes it to the Super Bowl. Womp womp). As I mentioned last time, I’ll be on a business trip during the actual game, but I think my husband and I will have a make-up Super Bowl snack fest when I get back. I would feel somehow cheated otherwise. To miss out on an opportunity to stuff myself with delicious snacks and dips and boozy concoctions and to be able to justify it all without a second thought would be…well…very sad.
Hopefully that doesn’t mean that my priorities are totally out of whack. They probably are. Shrug.
In my make-up spread, I’ll probably do a buffalo chicken something because it’s a mandatory thing at any tailgate/sporting event (and because buffalo flavors basically course through my veins), various munchies, a fun cocktail, and definitely something sweet to tie it all up with a nice finish. These peanut butter-chocolate pretzels are pretty much perfect for this type of thing. They’re a little bit salty, a lot a bit sweet, and they feature the best sweet flavor combo in the universe: chocolate and peanut butter AND pretzels. Yes. I’m adding pretzels into the infamous chocolate-peanut butter marriage because they are the PERFECT vessel for a peanut buttery chocolate ganache. Yes. We’re doing this.
Obviously, salt and sweet is a well known combination these days. I jumped aboard that train many years ago and will be a lifelong passenger. Give me all the sea salted caramel and chocolate for all the rest of my days. Salty sweets speak my love language. Even back when I was a kid, one of my most favorite things to do was to dip peanut butter sticks in peanut butter. OR chocolate. And yes, I was that weirdo who would order a chocolate milkshake and dip my salty fries into it. Yup. So yeah, this recipe has been YEARS in the making when you really think about it.
Soft pretzels are a thing of beauty, aren’t they? I don’t mean LITERALLY…frankly, they’re not the easiest food to photograph in a flattering light. But when it comes to eating them, yes. They are gorgeous. Pillowy, soft dough bites that get sprinkled generously with salt and work so well dipped into just about anything. Melty cheese. Melted chocolate. Heck, I’ve even put my breakfast INSIDE them. I am definitely a soft pretzel fan. They are heaven.
I’ve made many batches of soft pretzel dough, and I usually don’t stray too far from my base recipe. In this case, however, I decided to incorporate a little extra sugar and some peanut butter into the dough, which was (get ready for some very indulgent horn tooting) an excellent idea on my part (sorry). The pretzels themselves are actually excellent on their own without the ganache filling. You could make the pretzel bites unstuffed, brush them with a little butter once they come out of the oven, and roll them in cinnamon sugar or dip them in melted chocolate. They’re great!
In the name of fun food parties, though, I’m going to ask that you give this peanut butter ganache filling a shot. It’s a lot easier than you think. Making soft pretzels IS an easy process. Sure, it involves a few steps, but none of them is complicated. As with any dough recipe, I recommend reading through the entire recipe first and getting a feel for the general outline. It makes cooking so much easier (and more fun!). The ganache itself is a cinch to make, and as long as you plan ahead and make it/form it into tiny dollops so it can chill ahead of time, you’ll be golden. Easy peasy.
The result is so worth the extra effort. Soft, slightly chewy dough with a salty crust and filled with the most decadent peanut butter ganache…ugh, so good! You’ll be popping them like Skittles before your guests even arrive.
Maybe make an extra dessert to have on hand? Ya know, just in case these are gone before the game even starts. They’re THAT good, people. Say it with me now: popping them like SKITTLES.
¾ cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
1⅛ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg yolk, for brushing on formed pretzels
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
⅓ cup smooth peanut butter
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups boiling water
¼ cup baking soda
Combine the yeast, sugar, and water in a small mixing cup. Allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Mix the salt and flour together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place the peanut butter and butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. To the flour, slowly stream in the yeast mixture and the melted peanut butter/butter. Mix with the dough hook attachment until a smooth ball forms, about 1 minute. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Return to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for an hour. The dough should double in size.
While the dough is rising, add the peanut butter and chocolate to a heat safe bowl. Add the cream to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the peanut butter and chocolate and stir until everything is melted and smooth.
Stir in the vanilla and sea salt and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature or until it is solidified.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon, scoop out little balls of the peanut butter ganache and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the freezer and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Keep frozen until you are ready to make the pretzel bites.
Preheat the oven to 475°F and line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the baking soda to the boiling water and stir (be careful! It can boil over and make a mess! I add the baking soda VERY slowly).
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 6 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece of dough into a long rope, pulling and lengthening as you go. Slice the rope into 2-inch pieces.
Press an indentation into each dough piece and place a ball of the frozen ganache in the center. Carefully wrap the dough around the ganache the pinch together so it is completely enclosed. They don't have to be perfect - have fun with this! The most important thing is that the ganache is completely covered by the dough. Place formed pretzel bites on the prepared baking sheet.
Once all the pretzel bites are formed, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Add the pretzel bites, in batches, to the boiling baking soda water. Boil each batch for about 1 minute and then remove using a slotted spoon. Transfer boiled bites back to the baking sheet lined with parchment. Continue until all pretzels are boiled.
Brush the pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Bake the pretzels for 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Enjoy warm.