The red and green color palette and dusty Parmesan cheese that totally looks like snow was an absolute accident, but I'm taking it as a sign that it's time to put up our Christmas tree. Really I'm only barely early at this point. I keep seeing everyone on IG with their trees already up and decorated, so maybe I'm behind! Ah well. Whatever.
Aside from my inexplicable holiday looking scene here, I've got to point out the important thing: those pretzels have cheese in them, guys! Oh yes, soft chewy pretzels with gooey melted cheese get dusted in fresh herbs and then dunked in hot marinara sauce. It's all just as good as it sounds. Turn your oven on with me and let's make a treat!
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
24-30 mozzarella pearls
For the pretzel bath:
3 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
For the tops and sides:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon coarse grain sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I had parsley and rosemary on hand)
1-2 tablespoons dusty Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups of your favorite tomato or marinara sauce
In a large bowl combine the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with 1 cup hot water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to combine as the butter melts. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to foam and activate for 5-6 minutes. Then stir in the flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Use your clean hands to press into a dough ball and knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough begins to feel somewhat elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until it has nearly doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and divide into 24 pieces. These do not have to be precise. If you get a few that are slightly larger or smaller that's OK. Press into a sphere and then roll up one or two mozzarella pearls inside, pinching into a little ball.
In a large pot bring the 3 cups water and 1/3 cup baking soda to an almost boil. Cook the dough balls in the water for about 45 seconds. They will shrivel up a little at this stage. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Slice a small X in the top of each ball. Brush with butter and sprinkle some coarse salt on top. Then bake at 400°F for 15-16 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush with a little more butter. Then sprinkle on the fresh herbs and Parmesan.
These not only taste amazing, but added bonus: your house will smell of yeasty, cheesy goodness. Serve these along side a big delicious salad and a good red wine. Bread, cheese, salad, wine—maybe not a balanced meal but certainly a very comforting one. Make these this week, guys. They are just too good. Enjoy! xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.