I'm not sure that anything screams fall more than the brewery, pretzel, beer cheese, comfort food, football food, vibe. While going to breweries and other pretzel-serving establishments is one of my favorite things to do, it's also the best knowing you can recreate classic brewery favorites at home, That being said, my fiance and I are truly, dare I say, pretzel connoisseurs, so we have very high pretzel expectations. In my opinion, the best pretzels are perfecly soft on the inside with a chewy outside. One of our favorite breweries takes it to the next level though, coating the entire pretzel in parmesan, which is pretty much my heaven on earth. I knew I had to recreate them at some point, obviously with the best dipping sauce as well.
These parmesan soft pretzels with hard cider cheese are the definition of fall football food, and I promise you won't be able to have just one. I've made these twice lately and they are perfectly cheesy, doughy, and just salty enough. While it may seem like the cider cheese wouldn't be necessary with all the parm going on, the acidity from the cider and the sharp cheeses we'll use, actually create the best contrast to the doughy pretzel.
We'll start by making the pretzel dough which is super simple. I find it easiest to use a stand mixer for this, but if you don't have one you can definitely use a regular bowl to combine the ingredients. For some reason when I first got my stand mixer I would shy away from using the dough hook attachment. Don't ask me why, I think maybe it was because the shape never looked very effective to me, but it was only relatively recently that I realized how helpful it is! With this dough, you can just let the dough hook attachment knead the dough for 4-5 minutes and you will see it become so smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl without any effort from you!
Once smooth, it's important to leave the dough in the cleaned bowl with plastic wrap over it in a warm spot for roughly 45 minutes. The dough should double in size and will make your pretzel-forming-fun much easier. Next grab a good sized sauce pan and fill that up with the water and baking soda, which will have your pretzel dough tasting, well, pretzel-y. While that's coming to a boil turn your dough out onto a lightly oiled surface. Split the dough into 4 pieces, and then each quarter in half again, until you're left with 8 pieces.
Now for the fun part! Take each 1/8 of dough and roll it into a rope approximately 16-20 inches. At first you'll think there's no way that the piece of dough is large enough, but just keep gently rolling and you'll be surprised! Once you have your rope, form it into an upside down U, twist the bottom two pieces together, and then flip them up and stick each end to the top of the upside down U, and admire your lovely little pretzel! It may look too thin but once these get a quick bath in the baking soda they will immediately puff up.
Once each of the pretzels is formed, you'll place each of them into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then carefully scooping them out to return to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once brushed with a little egg wash, these easy pretzels are all set to pop in the oven for just 10-12 minutes. If your oven has certain hot spots, you may need to rotate the baking sheet at some point to ensure the pretzels evenly brown.
While they're cooking, we'll make the simplest, most delicious, cider cheese. A good beer cheese, to me, is essential to a good pretzel. For these pretzels, a perfect October twist (pretzel pun intended) seemed to be to use hard cider instead of beer. Like I mentioned, the apple acidity is also exactly what these rich pretzels need. The cheeses we'll use are gruyere (sigh, perhaps the most elite cheese), caramelized onion cheddar, and gouda. If you can't find any one of these cheeses, you can replace them with anything like regular cheddar, fontina, or any other good melting cheese. The caramelized onion cheddar may sound oddly specific, but if you can find it, the flavor is honestly unreal!
We'll want to toss the shredded cheese with a bit of flour first as this ensures once it's added to the liquid it doesn't clump. Then it's as easy as bringing the cider to a low simmer, adding in a dash of light cream, removing it from the heat, and stirring in the cheese in batches. Although it may not look like the cheese is melting, keep stirring and you'll eventually end up with the silkiest pretzel dunker out there.
While I truly love these pretzels, I have to say this cider cheese might be superior. Think a sharp flavor (from the cider) combined with sharp cheeses (gruyere, of course, then cheddar and gouda which are also amazing), and you have a dipping sauce which is of course savory, but also somehow the perfect companion to the rich pretzel. Plus, it tastes like fall with every dunk, which we are all going for these days.
The last step is as easy as adding some (okay, a fair amount, but in all fairness, these are pretzels we're talking about) melted butter to a small bowl, and LOTS of parmesan to another shallow plate. We'll then take a pastry brush (or small spoon) and brush each pretzel with the melted butter. Then it's as easy as confidently pressing each pretzel in the grated parm, flipping the little guy over, and sprinkling it with additional parm. When I was making these I really found the best ones were the ones I dunked, sprinkled, painted-with-parm, etc. until every visible inch was coated! I think we can all agree we'll never forget adding a little extra parm.
Grab a big blanket, a refreshing drink, and surround yourself with these fall-inspired double the cheese pretzels. Warm, doughy, and cheesy, these taste like your favorite homemade brewery.
The softest parmesan soft pretzels, dipped in creamy cider cheese- the most delicious fall appetizer.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl and leave in a warm spot for 5-7 minutes.
3. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, yeast mixture, salt, sugar, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low until combined. Once combined, increase speed to medium until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4-5 minutes.
4. Remove dough from bowl. If dough is sticky, sprinkle lightly with additional flour then remove from bowl. Clean bowl and grease lightly with oil, then return dough to bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm spot for roughly 45 minutes.
5. Bring 8 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil and grease 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Turn dough out onto counter and split into 4 pieces. Split each piece into 2 pieces. Roll dough into a rope approximately 16-20 inches long, then shape into a pretzel. Place each pretzel on the baking sheet.
6. Place each pretzel into the boiling baking soda water for 30 seconds then return to the baking sheet. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water, then brush each pretzel.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Meanwhile, make the cider cheese. In a medium bowl combine the shredded cheeses and flour. Pour cider into a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Add cream and remove from heat. Stir in cheese in batches, stirring between each addition. Keep warm while you finish the pretzels.
9. Place remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a small bowl. Place grated parmesan on a large plate. Brush each baked pretzel with the melted butter, then press lightly into parmesan. Sprinkle with additional parmesan to ensure it's evenly coated. Repeat and serve immediately with cider cheese.
When rolling dough into a rope and shaping into a pretzel, try to work the dough as little as possible.
Once pretzels have been submerged in the baking soda, and brushed with the beaten egg, try to put them in the oven as soon as possible.
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