Recipe: Homemade Soft Pretzel Hearts

Because nothing says “I love you” like homemade carbohydrates.

Over the weekend, I found myself standing at my kitchen sink, elbow-deep in dirty dishes. I was lost in thought, running through my never-ending to-do list. When I was halfway through the mountain of dishes, my children came bounding into the kitchen. They were bursting with excitement and had a very important question to ask me.

Would I bounce on the trampoline with them?

At that moment, with the laundry list of chores swirling in my head, I promptly burst their bubble. I explained that I had too much to do, and they couldn’t begin to hide their disappointment. They left the kitchen with a lot less pep in their step, and now it was my turn to feel disappointed.

I half-heartedly stared back at the stack of dishes. I was actively choosing the dishes over playing with my kids. The truth is, I know they aren’t going to be young forever. Time was going to march on, and these moments would be fleeting. That thought alone was enough to persuade me to promptly drop my sponge and I joined my kids outside.

That afternoon, I was thankful that I made the right decision. Together we bounced and played until our legs felt like jelly and our bellies began to rumble. To make amends for the earlier bubble bursting, I asked my kids if they would like me to make them homemade soft pretzels.

This special recipe is worth the extra effort, especially when you twist them into hearts for your loved ones. Your family and friends will feel the love you put into making these tender, golden brown soft pretzels.

Homemade Pretzel Hearts
(Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

Directions:

  1. Combine water, sugar and sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.
  2. Add in flour and butter and mix on low speed with dough hook attachment, until combined. Change to medium speed and knead until dough is smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove dough from bowl, clean the bowl and oil it with vegetable oil. Return dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for 55 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  5. Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface, divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a heart shape with the rope and twist the ends together. Place onto the parchment-lined sheet pan.
  7. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large spatula. Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  8. Bake until golden brown in color, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes before serving.

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Daniele Anderson Stringer

Award-winning lifestyle blogger, graphic designer, and mom. Loves animals, good books, and making soup. Visit her at weknowstuff.us.com for tasty recipes, fun kids crafts, and family-focused lifestyle articles.