Wow. That’s a mouthful.
A great mouthful. Soft pretzels are one of my favorite snacks, and I make them at home when a craving strikes. Whether they are plain and simply salted or used as a place to put my breakfast (OMG, need to make those again soon), soft pretzels are often found in our kitchen. I prefer them in bite-size nuggets. It makes it more fun to pop them in your mouth (plus, you feel like you can eat more).
In this case, I like to dunk them in a suuuuuper flavorful cheese dip before popping them in my mouth. Soft pretzels and cheese were meant to be, you guys. This is true with these pretzel nuggets even more so. I added some fun chili-inspired spices to this batch of soft pretzel dough, and they came out extra yummy and savory. Perfect for a hearty cheese dip laced with jalapeños and chorizo sausage. It was a Tex Mex snack fest up in here!
The queso recipe listed below makes A LOT of queso! You’ll definitely have some leftover after you polish off the entire batch of soft pretzels (not that I would know anything about that). But fear not! It’s perfect with tortilla chips as well. That’s how we finished up the leftovers. You could even serve it with tacos or quesadillas. Really, the options are endless. All things love cheese.
This particular batch of pretzels fell victim to my poor oven-monitoring skills. Hence, these pretzels are a little darker than I would have liked. BUT they still tasted great. Just like this lasagna did when I left it in the oven for 20 minutes too long. The baby cries and I am at his mercy…and apparently, so is my food. I really need to just set the oven timer. That would probably solve a lot of these problems.
Anyway. If you can see past the slightly odd coloring of these pretzel bites, I highly recommend you try them. They are perfect for snacking on during a movie or football game, and would make an absolutely fantastic party food. They are definitely crowd pleasers!
Chili-Spiced Soft Pretzel Bites with Chorizo-Cheddar Queso
For the Soft Pretzels:
¾ cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1⅛ teaspoons active dry yeast
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz unsalted butter, melted
⅓ cup baking soda
For the Queso:
8 oz chorizo sausage, removed from the casings and crumbled
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely minced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups half-and-half or whole milk
2 oz cream cheese, softened
10 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
⅓ cup finely diced tomatoes
For the Pretzels:
Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy. Whisk together the flour, spices, and salt and add to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on and slowly stream in the melted butter.
Mix until everything comes together and the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl, and place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12 inch rope. Using a sharp knife, cut rope into 1 inch pieces.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F and bring a pot of water to a boil. GRADUALLY add the baking soda to the water and stir until completely dissolved. Do not add it too quickly or you’ll have a mess on your hands (I speak from experience).
Boil the pretzels, in batches, for 30 seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Bake for 6 minutes or until deeply golden brown and slightly crisped on the outside.
For the Queso:
Sauté the chorizo in a skillet, stirring frequently, until rendered and crispy. Set aside.
In a medium saucepot, melt the butter. Add the shallot, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add in the flour and toss to coat the veggies evenly. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Whisk in the half-and-half (or milk) and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Check for seasonings/heat and adjust with salt, pepper, and hot sauce as necessary.
Remove from heat and stir in the diced tomatoes and cooked chorizo. Serve warm with the pretzels.