Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese

Yields approximately 32 bites | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

For the pretzel bites:

5 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
16 oz fresh or frozen pizza dough, room temperature
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
Course salt, for topping

For the beer cheese:

8 oz extra sharp cheddar, freshly grated
1 tbsp cornstarch
6 oz evaporated milk
6 oz bottled brown or amber ale
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Place water in a sauce pan, stir in baking soda and heat to a boil.

2. While water comes to a boil, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With lightly floured hands, roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Gently add the dough balls into the boiling water. Cook 1 minute, stirring gently (I add a few at a time as to not crowd them.)

3. With a slotted spoon, remove the dough balls and place on the lined baking sheet, about 1/2-inch apart. Brush the dough balls with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.

4. Bake 13-15 mins, until a deep golden brown.

Beer Cheese:

5. While the pretzels bake, add the freshly grated cheddar and cornstarch to a medium bowl and toss well to combine.

6.  In a medium sauce pan, whisk together milk, beer, and mustard. Heat on medium-high until hot and slightly steaming (not boiling,) stirring often. Whisk in cheddar a little at a time until melted and smooth.

7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm pretzel bites.

Note: The beer cheese can be made ahead of time and frozen. Thaw and reheat in smaller batches as needed. I would only re-freeze the beer cheese once more (totaling 2 times) before using it all or disposing of it.

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