Trust me, if you make these pretzels, you will not be able to tell the difference between them and the ones you get from that fabulous place in the mall. You know the place I’m talking about. It’s alliterative. If you had to look that up, I shake my head at you.
Anyhow, I love those pretzels. But I hate the mall. Hate. There are too many people and too much noise and too many over-friendly kiosk sales people who try to flat-iron my hair or show me a remote control helicopter. Just, no. But without going to the mall, you can’t get those fabulous soft, buttery (and sometimes cinnamon-sugary) pretzels.
Now, you can. I have spent months trying to find an exact recipe for those pretzels. I tried many, and while they all came close, none could compare. So I played around with the ingredients on my own for a while and came up with this gem. It is as close to the real thing as you’re going to get. And dare I say it, they may actually be better.
Because I’m terrible at being coordinated, I chose to make mine into pretzels nubs. If you have the coordination necessary to do the twisty flippy thing to make perfect pretzel shapes, then by all means go for it.
I accept thanks in the form of high-fives and football tickets
Exact Copy Recipe for Alliterative Mall Pretzels
Two (2) cups milk [I found that whole milk works best, but you can substitute almond or soy]
Two (2) packets of active dry yeast [not instant]
Six (6) tablespoons of LIGHT brown sugar [some recipes call for dark brown sugar but I found that affects the flavor]
Five (5) tablespoons melted butter
Five (5) cups all-purpose flour [you can substitute rice flour, just know the taste will be off]
Two (2) teaspoons salt [many recipes call for fine salt. I used Kosher coarse salt.]
Warm milk on the stove. You want it to be around 110 degrees. That is the optimal temperature so that the yeast will thrive. Once milk is warmed, stir in the two yeast packets until they dissolve. Remove from heat and dump mixture into a large bowl. Let mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes.
Add melted butter and LIGHT brown sugar. Stir.
Add in flour slowly. I ended up not having enough all-purpose flour so I subbed in an extra cup of brown rice flour. You want it to have the consistency of dough; that is, when stirring, it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Drop dough onto lightly-floured surface. Knead in the two teaspoons of kosher salt [regular iodized salt with the yellow umbrella chick on the package is fine, too].
Rub a stick of butter all over the inside of a clean bowl. Rub the butter onto the inside of some plastic wrap. Place kneaded dough into buttered bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour in a warm place. [I use my microwave. Best to let it rise in a place with no draft.]
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Punch down dough and then divide into manageable lumps – around ten to fifteen.
Roll dough with your hands until it looks like a thick snake. [My my photos turned out horribly, so that's the best visual I can give you. Some people like smaller pretzel nugs, some people like big chunky ones. Do what you like.]
Using a butter knife, slice rolled out dough into nuggets. Repeat until you have a field of dough nuggets on your counter. [This is also the point at which more talented cooks can shape the rolled-out dough into actual pretzels shapes!]
Now, the fun part.
Dissolve 1/3 cup of baking soda [yes, that stuff you keep in the fridge] into three (3) cups warm water. Dip pretzel nugget dough into baking soda-water mixture, and then place on greased baking sheet. [This step is what gives pretzels their brown crustiness yum!]
Sprinkle coarse Kosher salt over the pretzel nug dough on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes. [Oven times vary SO much when it comes to pretzels - keep a close eye on them. Let them brown but not burn.]
And here comes the unabashedly unhealthy part! While the pretzels are baking, melt a stick of butter in a small saucepan on the stove. Once the pretzels are golden-brown, take them out of the oven and IMMEDIATELY dip into the melted butter. Alternatively, you can spatula the pretzels off the baking sheet and into a serving bowl and just dump the melted butter over them. Whichever way floats your boat. Once the butter is on, feel free to sprinkle more Kosher salt on top.
Now, while I would wait a bit before taking a big ol’ bite, be advised that if you want more than the plain alliterative mall store pretzels, you can sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over them after the butter to have a sweet dessert pretzel.
These pretzel nugs are PERFECT for the big game at home, or to bring to a tailgate. Additionally, they are also perfect for not sharing, ever.
If you do make these, please let me know how you like them, and any fun sauces/dips you came up with!