March Madness is a big deal in this house. Both Landon and I attended big basketball schools (he went to UofL, I attended UNC – Go Heels Go!) and we each have an unwavering love for our teams. This year has been especially exciting since both of our teams are now in the same conference, which resulted in two regular season match-ups, one of which we were able to attend.
Another fun component to this year’s basketball season was that we were able to get season tickets to watch the UofL men’s team play. Attending games was a fun way to spend Saturdays (and escape from the cold!), while also making it totally acceptable to spend afternoons sipping draft Stella Cidres and devouring soft, salty pretzels covered in ridiculously large mounds of pickled jalapenos.
Now that the regular season is over and we’re watching all of our games from home, I have been so missing those salty pretzels (and the draft Stella Cidres…the bottled version is not quite the same). I just had to figure out a way to make my favorite basketball game snack at home. Well, I gave it a whirl, and guess what? I think the result was better than the original anyway!
Most of the time required to make these pretzels is downtime, which is perfect if you’re throwing several snacks together before a game-watching party. You’ll have more than enough time to whip up another dish or two while the pretzel dough is doing its thing. We enjoyed our pretzels with a beer cheese fondue made with roasted jalapenos and Stella (not Stella Cidre like I’ve been talking about all post…although that might be something fun to try this fall!) and two mustard varieties (coarse ground and Dijon). I loved all of the combinations! I hope that you enjoy these while watching your favorite thing, whether its college basketball or HGTV.
Happy March Madness, friends! And Go Heels Go!!!
- 1½ cups warm water (between 110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 4½ cups)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil for coating bowl and baking sheets
- 10 cups water
- ⅔ cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Kosher salt for topping
- 4 whole jalapenos
- 1 cup beer (I used Stella)
- 1 lb Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce (I used this bourbon barrel variety)
- 4 roasted jalapenos, seeded, peeled, and diced
- Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
- Add the flour and butter. Using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer, mix on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl. Clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
- Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saucepan.
- While the oven is preheating and water is starting to boil, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. I did this by shaping my dough into a circle, cutting into fourths, and then cutting each fourth in half right before rolling to prevent the dough from drying. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the baking sheet.
- Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Bake until pretzels are dark golden brown, approximately 12 to 16 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes prior to serving.
- Preheat broiler to high. Move oven rack to 3 to 4 inches below broiler.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.
- Wash and thoroughly dry jalapenos. Place jalapenos on baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to oven.
- Every couple of minutes, open oven to check on and turn jalapenos. You want the skins to get nice and charred (don't worry...you'll remove the skins before using, but if you don't char the skins enough, they will be difficult to remove later on).
- Once jalapenos are nice and charred, remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a plastic bag. Seal the bag and leave alone for approximately 15 minutes (the sweating of the jalapenos in the bag will help make their skins slide right off).
- After 15 minutes, transfer jalapenos from bag to cutting board. Peel off jalapeno skins. Slice off stems, slice jalapenos in half, remove seeds and devein, and dice. (Jalapenos can be roasted a few days in advance and diced jalapenos can be stored in the refrigerator.)
- Bring the beer to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the beer is gently simmering.
- Toss together the shredded Gruyère and the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add the cheese mixture to the beer one large handful at a time, stirring the cheese in a figure-eight pattern with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding more.
- Once all of the cheese is melted, stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and diced roasted jalapenos. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve immediately.