Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzels

It’s been a rough week at work.  Let’s just say that when it rains, it pours.  And when ninety percent of said rain involves clicking through documents all day and into the night, it’s no surprise that there is pain radiating up and down my right arm and the right side of my neck.  Also, my mind is fried, as are my eyeballs.

Last night my friend and I were supposed to go to a neighboring town for dinner (Groupon expiration date fast approaching!) but when we got to my garage we discovered that my car battery was dead.  It’s the second time this has happened in my car’s short 3-year life.  Wtf.  Added stressors are not appreciated right now.

But you know, there are still a lot of things that have been making me smile lately.  So rather than attempt to put together a coherent post, I’m going to leave you with a peek at the simple joys that have been making me happy, and a recipe for some soft, chewy pretzels that will rock your world.

Buds at work

Mind-blowing asiago herb bread. We attacked two basketfuls and then each bought a loaf to take home.

Fried oyster sliders. Oh yes. Still daydreaming about them? Definitely.

The Maximilian Affair

Ice cream sandwiches, nostalgia-inducing sprinkles

New jewelry stand

Chocolate peanut butter tart makes doc review more bearable. Not pictured: Bachelorette finale in the background, confirming that Ashley is indeed an idiot.

One of my Boston favorites

Much-needed carbs on a Friday night

Grilled clams, jalapeno drawn butter. Slurp.

Cucumber shots, table that looks like a lattice pie crust

On to the pretzels.  They’re soft.  They’re chewy.  They’re cheesy and spicy.  They’re fun to make because you get to boil them in fizzy water!  (Don’t burn yourself like I did).  One bite of these babies, and you’ll never want to buy a pretzel from a pretzel stand ever again.

Jalapeno Cheddar Soft Pretzels

Adapted from Shutterbean

Yields 8 large pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz. or 2 1/4 teaspoons)

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Oil or cooking spray

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Shredded cheddar (to taste)

Pickled jalapenos (to taste)

Combine water, sugar, and salt in a measuring cup.  Sprinkle yeast on top.  Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes, until it gets foamy on top.

Put flour in large bowl.  Add yeast mixture and melted butter.  Mix with a wooden spoon to combine, then continue mixing either with the spoon or kneading with your hands until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.  This takes a few minutes.

Oil or spray another bowl with cooking spray.  Place dough into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot.  While waiting for water to boil, turn out dough onto lightly oiled surface.  Punch dough to remove air bubbles.  Divide dough into 8 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a 24-inch rope.  Make a U-shape with the rope, then cross them over each other, pressing into the bottom of the U, to form a pretzel shape.

Carefully place pretzels into boiling water one by one for 30 seconds.  Don’t crowd the pretzels (I boiled 3 at a time).  Remove from water using a large spatula and place on baking sheets.  Brush top of each pretzel with beaten egg yolk mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese and jalapenos.  Bake 12-14 minutes, until pretzels are dark golden brown.

Store uncovered for up to two days.  Pretzels are best the day they are made, and get soggy if stored in covered containers.

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