Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Soft Pretzels and Pretzel Sticks with Cheese

I found this great recipe for homemade pretzels on Amber's Delectable Delights website. I let my 10 year old daughter do the shaping of the pretzels so they are her creations. I have to say these are so good. We also made some of her dogs and logs with string cheese inside. These were good while hot but after they cool it is kinda hard to eat.

Soft Pretzels
(Source: Amber's Delectable Delights)

1/8 cup hot water
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
4+ cups flour
Coarse kosher salt
Baking soda
Butter or shortening (to generously grease cookie sheets)

In a large bowl mix together hot water and yeast until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the warm water and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar dissolves.

Slowly add 4 cups of flour, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour counter. Dip your hands into extra flour. Knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth. (Push it down and away from you with the palms of your hands, turning the dough as you work)

Grease cookie sheets generously with butter or shortening. Sprinkle greased cookie sheet(s) with kosher salt. Preheat oven to 475. (It is very important that you grease the cookie sheets very well)

Using liquid measuring cup fill a large saucepan at least 1/2 full of water. For each 1 cup of water, add 1 tbls baking soda.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces.

Using the following 4 steps shape each dough ball into a pretzel shape...

1). Roll the dough into a rope 14" long and as thick as your thumb. Bend the dough into a U shape. (if you have trouble rolling the dough into a rope slightly wet your hands and try again).

2). Cross one end of the rope over the other one. The ropes should cross about three inches from the tips.

3). Twist the crossed ends, making a full turn. Fold the ends back, towards the middle of the U.

4). Open the ends slightly to form a pretzel shape. Press the ends into the dough firmly.

Bring water into saucepan to a gentle boil (not to many bubbles) Use pancake turner to lower each pretzel into the saucepan. Count slowly to 30. Then lift the pretzel onto the greased and salted cookie sheet (shaking off excess water back into the saucepan). Repeat until all the pretzels are done.

Sprinkle some kosher salt on top of the pretzels and put them in preheated oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the pretzels are golden.

Variation Recipes
Garlic Parmesan Pretzels Add 4-6 cloves pressed garlic and 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese into the liquid ingredients before adding the flour.
Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pretzels Add 4-6 chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp basil and 2 tsp parm cheese to the liquid ingredients before adding in the flour

Recipe notes
* You can make the dough up to 24 hours in advance, just cover the bowl and store in refrigerator.
* These also freeze very well. Just pop them into the microwave for a few seconds to reheat.
* This recipe will yield 20-24 shaped pretzels depending on the size you make them.
*You can also make pretzel sticks with this recipe. Instead of rolling dough into pretzel shapes just roll into 2-3" long ropes a little thicker than your thumb.

For Cheese Logs

Follow the soft pretzel recipe. But instead of shaping into pretzels or sticks roll out a piece of dough and roll up a piece of string cheese into the middle. It is very important to seal all the seams very well otherwise the cheese will ooze out of them. The cook time on these is also the same as the pretzel recipe.

Thanks Amber for the great recipe!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monica's Mom's Tres Leches Cake!

I served this fabulous cake at my puppy picking party this weekend and there are NO words for how incredible it was...really...I am not kidding...everyone asked for the recipe who tried it (except my one friend who doesn't bake and she will just ask me to make it for her over and over again.) Thanks to Monica's mom who has shared her wonderful recipe!

Sorry for the pic...everyone started showing up early (too excited to pick their new puppies) and I had to snap it so fast as I was still slicing up strawberries as guests arrived. No worries though because if you want to see a great photo you can hop on over to Monica's blog to see some really great pics. I know I will be making this again so I will take much better pics the next time and post them. :-)

Monica's Mom's Tres Leche Cake

1 box white cake mix
3 large eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
sweetened whipped cream (take heavy whipping cream add some sugar and whip)
strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, eggs, water, oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk til well blended. Poke cake all over with a skewer and pour milk mixture all over cake, pressing lightly to make sure milk is completely absorbed. It may seem really full, but it will all get absorbed.

Refrigerate cake 1-2 hours til cool to the touch and the cake has absorbed all the milks. Top with sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries.