Saturday, November 5, 2011

Busy Cooking: Pretzel Pizza Bites

I've been making a weekly menu for myself and it's been working great for many reasons, quicker trips to the grocery store, less wasting food, not buying things I don't need, planning easy meals for busy nights, and not having to worry about what's for dinner, to name a few.  I found these pretzel pizza bites on Sweet Pea's Kitchen blog a while ago, and couldn't wait to try them.  Halloween night seemed like the perfect time to enjoy a tasty finger food I could prepare ahead that the kids could eat on the go.

It must be an Illinois thing, because my husband asks me to buy pretzel rolls whenever I go to Whole Foods.  I had never heard of them before.  Since living here, I've seen so many recipes online for pretzel dinner rolls, pretzel sandwich buns, and now pretzel pizza bites- and they all seem to originate from Illinois.  These things totally rock, I can't wait for my dad to visit next week, so I can make them again for him.

As I was making them, I thought I wouldn't post them because it was a bit of an effort, rolling out the small dough balls, filling them, then sealing them.  But, the end result was sooo good, it was totally worth it.  If you're looking for something new to try as an appetizer or for a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon movie or football treat, try these, you won't be sorry!

Pretzel Pizza Rolls:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 pckg active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
6 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 1/2-5 cups all purpose flour

5 qts water
3/4 cup baking soda
shredded mozzarella cheese
pepperoni slices
sauce for dipping
egg beaten for brush on tops (optional- I didn't do this step)
sea salt for sprinkling on tops

For the dough:
1) In the mixer, mix together water, brown sugar, yeast, and butter with the dough hook.  Let sit 5 minutes.

2) Add salt and 4 1/2 cups flour, continue mixing until dough forms a ball.  If it is sticky, add more flour, 1 TBSP at a time.  Knead for about 4 minutes, dough may be sticking slightly to bottom of ball, but should not stick to sides.

3) Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled 1.5-2 hours.

4) Put dough on lightly floured surface.  Cut into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 21 inch long rope, cut into 7 pieces each (you should have about 56 pieces of dough).

5) Slice pepperoni pieces into quarters and put shredded cheese into a bowl.  Take each piece of dough, roll out into a flat circle.  Put several pepperoni pieces and a good pinch of mozzarella cheese into the center.  Fold sides up and pinch together.  Roll ends up and pinch together.  Gently press with your finger tips to close the seams.  Place the prepared rolls onto a plate.

6) Preheat the oven to 425.  Prepare baking sheets by lightly greasing them, or lining them with parchment paper.  I needed three baking sheets.  Add the 5 qts water and 3/4 cup baking soda to your largest stock pot and bring to a boil.  I find that you should let it boil for about 4 minutes before you drop your first roll in.

7) Once water is boiling, put the rolls in and you will see some foam forming in the water, let the rolls boil for 30 seconds.  I would drop in about 10-15, count to 30, remove them with a slotted spoon to let the water drain off and place them on a baking sheet.    You can tell the water was hot enough because the dough will feel almost rubbery when you remove the rolls, it should not feel sticky and look like it melted, this means your water isn't ready yet- try a few test ones first.

8) Sprinkle salt on the tops of the rolls.  (or you can brush with beaten egg first, then top with salt- your choice).  Bake in oven until dark golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.  After 12 minutes, my tops were getting brown, I took them out, but they weren't done yet.  I put them back in for 6 more minutes and they were dark, but done and delicious!  They should be dark brown like a pretzel.

9) Let cool, serve with a side of tomato sauce if you like.  I was so hungry, I opted for no sauce and they were delicious!!! I think I ate at least 20- no lie.

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