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So I’m one of those people – the ones who like to torture themselves with spicy foods. I’m the one who drizzles sriracha all over a spicy dish, looks specifically for foods labeled “spicy”, and insists that even a sweet salsa have a good kick to it. If you think about it, this really can be considered a mild form of self-torture, which you only seem to recognize when you’re frantically running from the table to the fridge to grab a glass of milk, or a handful of ice cubes, or whatever you think might help your burning mouth once you’ve set it on fire.
This isn’t anything new for me either; I remember when I was younger I used to LOVE Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. You know, the super hot ones that get red powder all over your fingers and make your mouth burn? I could barely get through a bite or two without feeling like I was going to die of spiciness, but apparently that was all part of the fun of it. And maybe that still is all part of the fun of it…
Since the fourth of July is right around the corner (can you believe it?!), my mind is officially in July-4th-recipe gear, which has me thinking PRETZEL ROLLS. I love, love, love soft pretzels, they’re perfect for summer barbecues, and they’re even better when they’re stuffed with spicy cheesy goodness. If you’ve caught on to how much I love gooey melted cheese, and now that you know how much I love spicy foods, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m really, really excited about these rolls. Really.
Soft pretzel rolls topped with a sprinkling of sea salt (or pretzel salt, if you’re fancy), filled with cheese, studded with bits of spicy jalapeno – how does that not sound good??
To all of you in the US, what are your plans for the 4th? Are you cooking/baking anything? This has always been one of my favorite holidays because of the barbecues and the food. :D And on that note, I have a few more recipes perfect for the 4th coming your way, so check back soon! There’s also a few July 4th recipe links on the sidebar to your right, *hint, hint*. Enjoy!
P.S. If you’re not like me and you aren’t obsessed with all things spicy, you could easily tone down the jalapeno factor in these pretzel rolls for a more mild touch of heat. Also, when you get to the shaping step of the recipe, you can see step-by-step photos here.
These pretzel rolls combine everything you love about a soft, lightly salted pretzel with the kick of a spicy, cheesy filling. They're a great serving idea for a summer barbecue!
- 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 15 7/8 ounces (3 3/4 cups, spoon and level) bread flour, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) shredded cheese (such as aged cheddar)
- 1 large and 1 medium jalapeño pepper*, minced
- 64 ounces (8 cups) water
- 2 1/4 ounces (1/4 cup) baking soda
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- coarse sea salt or pretzel salt, for sprinkling
- In a microwave safe measuring glass or bowl with at least a 2-cup capacity, microwave the water for 30-40 seconds, until it reads 110-115ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast on top, stir in, and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave, and let it cool to 110-115ºF. Your goal is to have it at this temperature when your yeast mixture is ready.
- Transfer the yeast mixture to a large bowl and add the butter. Sprinkle 12 3/4 ounces (3 cups, spoon and level) bread flour on top. Add the salt. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. It should be pretty wet/sticky.
- Gradually add a bit of the remaining flour** to the dough as needed and mix in until you can work the dough with your hands without it getting stuck everywhere. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead, incorporating more of the remaining flour as necessary, for about 10 minutes.*** When the dough is ready, it should be elastic and tacky, but no so sticky that it gets stuck to the counter or your hands. Shape dough into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl that is twice its size. Turn once to coat the top of the dough with the cooking spray, and then cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Toss the shredded cheese with the minced jalapeño to evenly combine.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the risen dough and divide into 9 equal portions (if you have a kitchen scale, use it to make each portion equal in weight). Working with one portion at a time and leaving the rest of the dough covered with plastic wrap, flatten the piece into a round (make sure the center is smooth) and place a scoop of the cheese mixture in the center. Again, if you have a scale, use it to weigh the cheese and jalapeño filling so that you can place an equal amount in each roll. Wrap the filling up inside the dough by lifting the edges of the dough and bringing them together in the center, pinching closed. (Picture tying up a knapsack.) Make sure all of the filling gets sealed in. Turn the roll over and round out the edges with your palms, gently pulling dough towards the bottom of the roll if needed to help smooth out the top.**** Place roll pinch-side down on one of the prepared baking sheets. Cover and repeat with remaining rolls, leaving ample space between each roll on the baking sheet. Once all are shaped, cover and leave to rise for 30-40 minutes, until very puffy, like this. Before starting the poaching step, preheat oven to 400ºF with oven racks set in the bottom and top-third positions.
- Combine water and baking soda in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. One by one, gently dunk each roll into the simmering liquid, top-side up. Poach for about 20 seconds, and then carefully flip with a small strainer and poach for another 20 seconds. Lift up the roll with the strainer, let the excess water drain, and flip roll top-side up onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining rolls, dividing between the two baking sheets, leaving a couple inches of space between each roll. The rolls will look wrinkled once they come out of the poaching liquid, but they'll smooth out once they bake.
- Whisk the egg white with the water for the glaze. Brush glaze all over the exposed areas of the rolls. Sprinkle the top of each roll with some sea salt or pretzel salt.
- Bake rolls for 18-20 minutes, flipping and rotating baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Tops should be golden when done, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom center of one of the rolls should read about 210ºF. These are best served warm from the oven, but you can also allow them to cool completely on a wire rack and reheat before serving. Rolls can be wrapped in a light kitchen linen and reheated in the microwave, or you can stick the whole batch in a warm oven for a couple minutes to reheat. Any leftover rolls should be kept in a ziploc-type bag.*****
*The amount of jalapeño called for in the recipe will make the pretzel rolls pretty spicy. Feel free to use less if you don't want as much heat.
**During the entire process of step 4, you can use up to the remaining 3 1/8 ounces (3/4 cup, spoon and level) bread flour as needed for your dough.
***You should notice as you knead that the kneading will be easiest when the dough has the perfect amount of flour.
****For a step-by-step photos of the shaping process, click here.
*****After a while, the salt will soak into the rolls from moisture so they won't look as pretty, which is part of the reason why these are best served fresh.