After spending a good part of my early 20s working in Toronto’s Eaton Center, I get a little bit twitchy at the thought of spending any amount of time in a shopping mall.
The only thing that can lure me back in is the promise of a mall-style pretzel… I just love those pillowy-soft bites flecked with crunchy bits of salt, preferably with a side of peanut butter for dunking.
So I thought to myself, why not try making them at home, so that I wouldn’t have to brave the mall for a fix? And why not take it one step further by baking the peanut butter right into each bite?
I’m pleased to say this little experiment was an unqualified success. Hidden inside the perfectly golden-brown salt-speckled exterior of each mini pretzel bite, a peanut butter center awaits unsuspecting snackers. It’s all the goodness of my beloved mall pretzels, wrapped up in one perfect bite-sized bundle.
While I made these with Smooth Operator, the options are as endless as there are Peanut Butter & Co. flavors – for a sweet-and-salty treat, try these with Mighty Maple or Bee’s Knees, or satisfy your inner chocoholic with Dark Chocolate Dreams. Personally, though, I prefer salty simplicity of the version below.
Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 100 pretzel bites
For the dough
1½ cups cups warm water
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2½ teaspoons salt
For baking soda solution
2 quarts water
½ cup baking soda
For filling and egg wash
1 cup Smooth Operator peanut butter
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt
Prepare the dough
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, butter, honey and yeast, and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until slightly foamy.
2. Add 4 ½ cups of flour and salt to the bowl, and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Increase speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough comes together into a ball and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. The dough should feel slightly tacky and elastic – if it’s too wet or sticky, add more flour as needed, a tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and shape into a ball.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased mixing bowl, turning over to coat all over with oil. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Shape and Fill the Bites
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two large baking sheets with oil or cooking spray.
2. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each one out into a 16″ rope.
3. Using a sharp knife, score each rope down the middle to create a trench, making sure not to cut all the way through. Using a spoon, spread 2 tablespoons peanut butter into the bottom of the trench.
4. Carefully fold the two halves back together, and firmly pinch the seam shut. Using a sharp knife, cut the ropes into one inch pieces, then pinch off the cut ends to seal in the peanut butter.
Cook the Pretzel Bites
1. In a large pot, prepare the baking soda solution by bringing the water to a boil and adding the baking soda.
2. Drop pretzel bites into the baking soda solution, working in batches of 10-15 bites at a time. Boil for 15-20 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towel to drain.
3. Arrange the boiled pretzels on greased baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, then allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a serving dish. For best results, serve the pretzel bites the same day they’re made.
PEANUT BUTTER GIVEAWAY
These pretzel bites are perfect for Super Bowl Sunday! What other fun peanut butter-centric snacks are you making for the big game?
Leave a comment below with your answer to enter for a chance at winning a jar of Smooth Operator, the peanut butter used in this recipe.
– The giveaway is open to USA residents only and will run until Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST.
– One entry per person.
– Winner(s) will be generated via a random number generator and notified via the contact email provided on the comment form.
– Winner(s) will have until 02/07/13 to claim their prize or we will choose another winner.
– Winner will win one 16oz jar of Smooth Operator peanut butter. Product will be shipped by Peanut Butter & Co.
– No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 years of age to enter. See Official Giveaway Rules.