Pretzels are my all-time favorite ball park snack, so what better to make for World Cup Finals snacking? I ate two of them over the course of the game (which I think shows great restraint) and managed not to inhale any with all the gasping and shrieking I did. The game was fantastic - both teams played incredibly well and it was so close and exciting. Teams coming seemingly out of nowhere to win it all is part of what makes international sports worth watching. Congrats to Japan!
But back to the pretzels. I had planned on using a recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice but surprisingly, there was no recipe. So I turned to Alton Brown instead. The key to the pretzel-y flavor of pretzels is a quick float in a hot tub laced with more baking powder than you are likely to have on hand (so stock up).
I found the dough to be very soft and a challenge to roll, but once they puffed up in the pot you could hardly tell. After just a minute in the water, the pretzels are removed and left to dry. A quick egg-wash for color (and to help the sea salt stick) and into a quite hot oven for 15 minutes.
The egg wash and hot oven make a deliciously crunchy exterior with soft, doughy goodness hiding within. They are absolutely as good as they look, but they can be improved upon with this golden bowl of goodness:
To the German originators of pretzels, mustard is the proper accompaniment. But to a kid at a ballpark, it's cheese sauce all the way. So to bridge these opposing groups, I present my peace accord in the form of a cheddar-mustard sauce.
Yield: 6 servings
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. flour
1 c. milk
2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. velveeta, cubed
1 heaping tbs. grainy mustard
3 shakes hot sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1. First we'll make a loose béchamel. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and whisk in the flour until it forms a roux, cook about 90 seconds. Add milk while stirring vigorously to avoid lumps. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.
2. To your béchamel, add the two cheeses and stir to melt. Once your sauce is silky-smooth, add in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Adjust all to taste.