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As the weather began getting cooler in New England Eric & I started having more fires in the backyard. I love cooking things over an open outdoor fire than pretty much any other type of cooking, ever. During this time we were grocery shopping and I noticed that you could buy soft pretzels in a can, like those canned biscuits. Canned biscuits are fun to cook over a fire, so soft pretzels seemed like a genius idea! Then I thought, why buy the canned stuff? I know how to whip up a recipe.

But what’s a delicious soft pretzel with a delicious dip to dip it in? So I got to work first creating a beer cheese dip. Because, why not?

Ingredients:

– olive oil

– 1 small yellow onion, chopped

– 2 tablespoons flour

– 1 cup of beer (I used some of our home brewed summer ale)

– 1/2 cup of milk

– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

– Pinch nutmeg

– 1-2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated

Now the how-tos:

– Drizzle some olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the chopped onion until it becomes translucent.

– Stir in the flour to coat the onion completely, and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

– Slowly add the beer, whisking constantly.

– Next, slowly add the milk as you continue whisking.

– Bring everything to a simmer and add all of your spices.

– Cook everything, whisking occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

– Now remove the sauce from the stove top and slowly mix in your grated cheese, allowing it to melt as you stir.

Beer cheese sauce is finished! Just as a bit of a caution, this sauce does have a very bold flavor with the onions and beer. Also, while it’s best right when it’s fresh and hot, it does keep in the fridge for about a week and would be great as a condiment on sandwiches. Give it a try! Especially if you’re using pretzel rolls.

Now, on to the actual soft pretzels!

What you’ll need:

– 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast

– 2 tablespoons of sugar

– 1 teaspoon of salt

– 1 1/2 cups of warm tap water

– 4 cups of flour

– olive oil

– 1/4 cup of baking soda

– 2 more cups of warm tap water

– thick sea salt

– butter

And the how tos:

– Dissolve your yeast, sugar, and salt in the 1 1/2 cups of warm water.

– Stir in the flour and knead until the dough is smooth & elastic.

– Place the dough into an oiled bowl  and turn your dough so that it’s completely coated in olive oil.

– Cover loosely (I place a plate over top the bowl) and allow to rise undisturbed for an hour.

(Here’s where the directions split off, For this first section, I’m going to give you the campfire directions.)

– We had our good friend Chris over that night and I had the dough & beer cheese dip ready when he showed up. We built a fire in the backyard, gathered some thick cooking sticks, and brought everything outside with us. Along with the dip and dough I brought a bowl with the baking soda dissolved in the 2 cups of warm water, and a bowl of sea salt.

– We then took snake-like pieces of dough and submerged them in the baking soda mixture. Then we wrapped them around our cooking sticks, sprinkled on some sea salt, and roasted them slowly over the open fire like you would a marshmallow. They were awesome. And the beer cheese dip was perfect.

Oh but don’t worry, if you don’t feel like being adventurous and cooking your food outside (just kidding) you can make these pretzels in your oven. I did pretzel bites, but you could turn these into full twisted soft pretzels if you wanted to. So, picking up from the risen dough:

– Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

– Dissolve the baking soda in the 2 cups of warm water.

– Turn the dough onto a floured surface and cut off a piece.

– Roll the piece into a long rope and then cut the rope into small sections.

– Dip the small dough sections into your baking soda mixture and then place onto a well greased baking sheet.

– Sprinkle with sea salt.

– Place in oven and bake for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

– Dip the hot pretzels in melted butter (or drizzle melted butter over them).

Eat them with your delicious beer cheese dip! I’ve tried making soft pretzels quite a few times and this is by far the best recipe I’ve found. These definitely taste best when they’re hot & fresh. You can keep them for a few days, but they get kind of soggy because if the moisture from the salt, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Hope you like these as much as I do!

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