Cheesy Pretzel Bites

Ok, so I have been meaning to make these for AGES and have just now finally gotten around to it. I felt it fit into the Superbowl snack theme that I was going with yesterday. (Bonus snack idea: I mixed 1/8 cup [20g] of raisins into 2 tbsp [32g] of natural honey roasted peanut butter and it was a phenomenal decision; 250 calories of very filling yumminess.)

But back to the pretzels. These pretzel bites are whole wheat, delicious, easy to make, and most importantly, stuffed with cheese. I made them in a very small batch – only six of them – but it’d be easy to multiply the recipe and make more. For all six, it was 275 calories. That may seem like a lot of calories for a snack, but nearly all of them come from the flour and, like the peanut butter/raisin combo, these babies will keep you satisfied.

A couple of things to know about these pretzels: you’re going to want to stick the cheese in the freezer before you start doing anything else. This step is important because, to make them pretzely, you’ll have to dunk the bites into boiling water before you bake them and you want to make sure the cheese doesn’t all melt out of the ball.

I used 100% whole wheat flour for my pretzels, which worked fine, but it meant that they were pretty dense. If you’re looking for lighter, fluffier pretzels, you can use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, or just give up on the whole wheat altogether and go with 100% all-purpose flour (but then they’ll be less healthy).

Most pretzel recipes I’ve found to say to boil your water bath and then add the baking soda, but when I’ve done that in the past I’ve ended up with a volcano. This time I put the baking soda in before the water boiled and this seemed to work just fine.

When you’re rolling the cheese into the dough, make sure you’re very careful to close up all the seams; it’ll be really disappointing if you pull them out of the oven to find that the cheese is all over the baking sheet instead of inside your pretzels! Fortunately, this only happened to one of mine; sticking the cheese in the freezer beforehand probably helped with this also.

I considered making these into football shapes, since it was the Superbowl, but ultimately decided against it because that seemed like a lot of work. However, If you’re more ambitious than I am, you should be able to form the dough into whatever shape you’d like once you’re rolled the cheese in – just make sure to do so before you boil them, because the boiling process starts to cook the dough a tiny bit and will make it more difficult to manipulate.

Finally, these are best served while still warm because as the pretzels cool, so will the cheese, and it won’t be quite as melty. If you have to wait but still want melted cheese, you can warm them back up in the oven for a few minutes at the lowest temperature or stick them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

And now, without further ado, I present to you…

Full Pretzel Bites

Cheesy Pretzel Bites

1 reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese stick (or 0.75 oz from a block)
1/2 cup (60g) whole wheat flour, separated into thirds (I used a kitchen scale)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/8 tsp white sugar
1 tsp butter, softened (I used light butter; normal butter will add 18 calories )
1/4 cup warm water
1/8 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp butter, melted (optional)
coarse salt (optional)

1) Cut the cheese into six cubes and put them into the freezer while you prepare the dough.
2) Put 1/6 cup flour (20g), yeast, sugar, butter, and water together in a bowl and stir to combine. Once mixed, allow to sit until bubbles begin to form – about fifteen minutes.
3) Stir in salt and then mix the remaining flour, a little at a time, into the dough. When all the flour has been mixed in, knead the dough until smooth and elastic (this took me maybe three minutes).
4) Separate the dough into six pieces, roll each into a ball, and set them aside to rest. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 450º and boil a pot of water with the baking soda, making sure that the water is deep enough to fully submerge each pretzel bite.
5) Remove the cheese cubes from the oven and press one into the center of each ball of dough, folding the edges up to completely surround the cheese. Roll each bite in your hands to get the dough back into a spherical shape and make sure to seal any seams. If you’d like to form them into a different shape, do it now.
6) Drop the bites into the boiling water (I was able to fit all six of mine at once) for about 45 seconds, turning them over halfway through. Remove each ball with tongs or a slatted spoon and place onto a greased baking sheet.
7) If you’d like, brush melted butter over the tops of each bite and/or sprinkle with coarse salt. I did neither, but the butter will help give it that pretzel-esque shine.
8) Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating, because the cheese will be very hot, but serve warm for the best results!

And that’s that. If I’d known it was going to be so easy, I’d have made these a long time ago when I first thought of it!

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