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Soft pretzels and beer cheese on parchment surrounded by mini pumpkins and pumpkin seeds

Soft Pretzels with Pumpkin Beer Cheese

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

For the Pretzels

  • 4 cups AP flour Plus extra for dusting
  • 1.5 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey Optional: You can substitute 1 tablespoon brown sugar instead of honey.
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • extra salt for sprinkling

For the Boiling Bath

  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda

For the Sauce

  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup whole milk Optional: Use half and half
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin beer or cider
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons AP flour Optional: Use GF flour
  • 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

Make the Pretzels

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and honey. Stir together and let sit for 5 minutes. Check to make sure the yeast is foamy and active.
  • Add the 2 teaspons of salt and slowly begin incorporating 3.5 cups of the flour, stirring all the while. You can use a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. The dough should be thick, not sticky. You may need to use all 4 cups to achieve this, but you might not, so add 3.5 cups and be the judge from there.
  • Poke the dough with a finger. If it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3-5 minutes, dusting with more flour if the dough is too sticky. It should be tacky, not ripping apart on your hands or the surface. Shape into a ball, add to a bowl, and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel.
  • Let the dough rest for 1-2 hours. It should become significantly larger, about doubled in size.
  • Punch your dough to release the air, then turn out on a clean surface.
  • Cut your dough into 12 even pieces.
  • Roll each piece out into a long, thin tube, then shape into a pretzel. You could also make shorter logs or even bite-sized pieces as you prefer.
  • In a large pot, bring your water and baking soda to a boil.
  • While the water is boiling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Alternately, you could spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  • Once the water is boiling, add your pretzels in small batches, being exceptionally careful not to crowd the pot. Let them boil until they float, then remove with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess water, and arrange them on the baking sheet.
  • Crack your egg into a clean bowl and whisk with a fork. Brush your pretzels with the egg wash.
  • Bake your pretzels for 10 minutes.
  • While the pretzels bake, melt your butter on the stovetop in a small pan.
  • After 10 minutes, remove the pretzels from the oven. Brush them with melted butter, then sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake the pretzels again for another 13-15 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Make the Pumpkin Beer Cheese

  • While the pretzels are baking, make the pumpkin beer cheese.
  • In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Don't let it get foamy or overly hot.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter while continuously whisking.
  • While continuously whisking, toast the roux for 2-5 minutes. Turn the heat down if your roux seems too hot.
  • Once your roux is toasted to your liking, add the pumpkin beer and thoroughly whisk together.
  • Add the milk, mustard, and garlic powder, then thoroughly whisk to combine. If you want to add any heat, now is the time.
  • Optional: This sauce is pretty thick and will set up like a spread when it's cooler. If you want your pumpkin beer cheese to be thinner, add more milk or pumpkin beer to your liking.
  • Add in the cheese by whisking it in, handful by handful, letting it completely melt and incorporate before adding a new batch.
  • Once your sauce is creamy and the cheese is completely melted, remove from the heat.
  • Keep your sauce warm until ready to serve. Sprinkle with pepitas if desired.