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!
For the Soft Pretzels:
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups boiling water
- 5 tablespoons baking soda
- Coarse salt
- ½ stick of unsalted butter, melted
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:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit in the bowl for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, spices, and salt in a bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and knead the mixture together using the dough hook attachment. Knead until a soft and smooth dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in the bowl to rest, covered with a towel, for about 45 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, combine the boiling water and baking soda in a large baking dish, whisking so the baking soda dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool to almost room temperature.
- Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for a couple minutes and then divide it into four equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough out into a 12-inch rope. Cut each rope into quarters, yielding four 3-inch pretzels (you an also cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces if that’s preferred).
- Once all the pretzels have been cut, gently place them in the baking dish filled with the water and baking soda solution. Turn them to evenly coat and then let them rest in the solution for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pretzels from the water solution and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt and then bake for 14-16 minutes or until they are puffed slightly and golden brown.
- Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush them with the melted butter. Sprinkle with more coarse salt and serve warm alongside the queso (you can keep them warm in a 200°F oven until the queso is ready).
For the Queso:
- Sauté the chorizo in a medium saucepot, stirring frequently, until rendered and crispy. Remove the chorizo from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Drain off all but a few teaspoons of the drippings.
- Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, 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.