When I read a cookbook, I always take mental notes of the things I really, really want to make. Admittedly, I have a messy, confused pile of notes in my head at this point, but I eventually remember them when an occasion for each arrives. Sometimes it takes a while though. I’ve had the lovely and thorough Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres Handbook since 1999, and I just finally made the pretzel bites that looked so tasty when I first saw them in that book over ten years ago. There’s one less note cluttering up my brain now. I feel better. It’s nice to make room in there for new notes. I remember when I first saw these addictive, little snacks. They looked great for a party, and I thought they’d partner perfectly with ice cold beer. We had a few friends over for happy hour at our house a couple of weeks ago, and I got to try these mini pretzels at last. They’re made from an easy dough that’s cut into bite-sized pieces that are boiled and baked. You can top them however you choose, and I made two versions using grated parmesan for one and a mixture of crushed fennel seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and salt for the other.
The yeast dough, which was very much like pizza dough, was made in a stand mixer, and then it was kneaded on a floured board until smooth. It was left to rise for about an hour and a half. The dough was divided into 16 portions which were each rolled into a rope and then cut into three-quarter inch pieces. The pieces were boiled in batches of about 15 at a time for one minute in water with baking soda added, and then they were placed on oiled baking sheets. The boiled pieces were brushed with an egg wash, topped as desired, and then baked in a 450 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.
This recipe makes a lot of pretzel bites, but they do disappear quickly. It’s impossible to stop popping them into your mouth when they’re warm from the oven. They’re soft on the inside with a little crunch on the surface, and the salty toppings keep you coming back for more. The only criticism I have is that they’re not as amazing after they’ve sat for a few hours and even less so the next day. Re-warming them in the oven for about five minutes fixes that by bringing back that nice surface crunch, so I recommend it before serving if you’ve made them in advance. Then, don’t bother counting how many you’ve eaten, just refill the tray as needed.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.