by KACI HANSEN
They say the quickest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and a cold beer paired with these soft pretzel fingers, served with a blood-red cheese sauce spiked with your favorite brew, is the ultimate way to get there!
Making your own soft pretzels and cheese sauce is far easier than one might think. It’s one of my go-to appetizers when enjoying beers and horror flicks with friends. The sauce is also delicious served with cubed bread, meats and vegetables, and goes perfectly alongside a flight or pint.
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Yields: 24 fingers
For the Dough
- 2 ¼ t instant yeast
- 1 C warm water
- 2 ½ C flour
- 1 t salt
- 1 t sugar
For the Topping
- 1 C boiling water
- 2 T baking soda
- 1 T coarse salt
- 4 T salted butter, melted
Bloody Beer-Cheese Sauce
- 2 T Salted Butter
- 2 ½ T flour
- ½ C milk
- ¾ C beer
- 1 ½ t Worcestershire sauce
- 1 t mustard powder
- ½ t garlic powder
- ¼ t onion powder
- 2 ½ C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Paprika, salt, and black pepper, to taste
- Red gel food coloring
For the Soft Pretzel Fingers
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the warm water and yeast. Once the mixture becomes slightly foamy, add in the flour, salt, and sugar and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until soft and smooth. Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. While the dough is resting, prepare the topping by combining the boiling water and baking soda, and stirring until the baking soda has dissolved. Set mixture aside to cool.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly-greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope. Cut each rope crosswise into finger-length sections. Gently shape the dough to resemble fingers, and use a sharp knife to add ‘fingernails’ and ‘knuckles’ to each one.
- Once shaped, place the ‘fingers’ into the baking soda solution for a couple of minutes before transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with coarse salt.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown, but still soft. Remove from the oven, and toss in melted butter. Serve with Bloody Beer-Cheese Sauce.
For the Bloody Beer-Cheese Sauce
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add in the flour and whisk until it is a paste-like consistency; cook for one minute. Then add in the milk, beer, & Worcestershire sauce while stirring continuously until smooth. Stir in the red gel food coloring, mustard, garlic, and onion powders. Continue to whisk over medium heat for about five minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and gradually add in the shredded cheese, stirring continuously until the cheese has completely melted. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste.