Ham & Cheddar Pretzel Bites w/ Jalapeno Mustard

Ham & Cheddar Pretzel Bites w/ Jalapeno Mustard
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2009; makes 4 dozen bites

while these are fine as-is, do not hesitate to use other 'mix-ins'. bacon would work well as a ham substitute, and there are a list of cheeses to try. i took the liberty of adding more cheese and ham below as i had to chop more halfway through filling :). like jalapenos? these would be great with a little diced jalapeno inside. i bet they'd even be good with a little nutella or chocolate if you're wanting something more along the lines of dessert.

ingredients
1.5 t active dry yeast
2 T plus 1 t light brown sugar, divided
1/4 c warm water
1 c warm milk
2 1/2 - 3 c ap flour
1/2 - 1 c country ham
1/2 - 2/3 c sharp cheddar cheese
4 t baking soda
1/2 c Dijon mustard
2 T finely chopped jalapeno (~1 average-size)
1 T honey
1/2 stick melted, unsalted butter (for brushing)
1-2 T coarse salt or pretzel salt

instructions

  1. stir together yeast, 1 t brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and let stand until foamy (8 minutes or so; no foam = bad yeast).
  2. in a separate bowl, stir remaining brown sugar and warm milk until sugar is dissolved
  3. add 2 1/2 c flour and milk mixture to yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 c more flour if necessary. turn onto lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball. transfer to clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. let rise in draft-free place, room temp, for about 2 hours
  4. turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal portions. lightly dust your hands with flour and gently roll and stretch 1 piece into a 12-inch long rope. flatten and roll (with floured pin) into an approximately 12x4 inch rectangle. press 1/4 of cheese and ham into lower third of rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border at bottom. stretch bottom up and over filling and roll tightly. cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to sheet pan. repeat 3 more times. let rest at room temp for 30 minutes
  5. preheat oven to 400 F. line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silpat and bring a large pot of water to boil
  6. once water is boiling, reduce heat and add baking soda, stirring to dissolve. cook pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning over once, about 20 seconds. bites will slightly puff up. transfer with slotted spoon to baking sheets
  7. bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. that cheese will be oozing and looking yummy
  8. meanwhile, stir together mustard, honey, and jalapeno
  9. brush just-baked bites with melted butter and sprinkle with salt

*if desired, you can freeze these little suckers, once cooled. thaw them for ~30 minutes and bake for about 10 to reheat

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