I love Valentine’s Day! I love any excuse to shower extra love, attention, and baked goodies on my kids and all those around me. We had a rare, lovely couple of days with nothing scheduled this past weekend. So, I decided to get my Valentine’s decor out, which inspired me to make my kids a special Sunday snack. I took my recipe for soft buttery pretzels and made them into heart shapes. You will be amazed at how easy these are to make. The dough mixes up quickly and only needs to rest for 30 minutes. Two of my kids love them doused with cinnamon and sugar. I serve the cinnamon sugar pretzels with delicious whipped cinnamon honey butter. (See recipe below in “Baking Tips.”)
The other child likes the traditional salted pretzel.
You can also take this recipe and make soft pretzel sticks or pretzel bites. Whatever way you decide to shape them, they are amazing! I often make pretzel sticks or bites for get togethers, and they never last more than 30 minutes. These are such a crowd pleaser for any age!
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4 oz) instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup (7-8 oz) warm water*
*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.
1 cup (8 oz) boiling water
2 tablespoons (1 oz) baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt, optional
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it’s soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
Preheat your oven to 475°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 70g, or 2 1/2 ounces, each).
Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Pour the baking soda/water into a 9″ square pan.
Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 20″ to 22″).
Shape each rope into a heart shape, pinching the ends together at the bottom point of the heart.
To make a traditional pretzel, roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28″ to 30″ long), and twist each rope into a pretzel.
Working with 2 hearts at a time (or 4 pretzels at a time), place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops; leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet. This baking soda “bath” will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color.
Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet. If your heart shape comes apart, just reshape it on your pan. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt, if desired.
Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up. Dredge any unsalted pretzels in cinnamon and sugar if desired. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.
Yield: 8 large pretzels.
Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour
*To make pretzel bites: Roll the six pieces of dough into 10″ ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into 6 to 10 equal pieces. Dip the pieces into the baking soda solution, place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt if desired. Bake in a 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and roll the bites in melted butter; about 6 tablespoons should do it. Dredge any unsalted pretzel bites in cinnamon sugar if desired.
*I serve the cinnamon sugar pretzels with cinnamon honey butter.
*I strongly urge you to weigh your ingredients. Not only will you get a more precise measurement, but it also eliminates the need to use measuring cups. That’s one less thing to wash!!!! BONUS!!!
*See my tips and techniques page on how to measure flour if you do not weigh your ingredients.
Cinnamon Honey Butter
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons good honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe Source: Barefoot Contessa
How can you bless others with heart shaped soft pretzels?
- Surprise your kids and/or significant other with a special snack or treat.
- Box a few pretzels up and deliver them to the secretaries and school nurse at your child’s school.
- Have some neighbors and friends over to celebrate Valentine’s day with coffee/tea and heart shaped pretzels!