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.