I’m all for girl power. I love seeing young women busting through every glass ceiling in sight, creating their own rules, and making a major difference in the world. The other day, I had a conversation with a man who actually said, “It’s hard for me to admit this, but I honestly think that if women were more in charge, the world would be a much better place.”
I decided instantly that I liked this man.
So when Sarah from Wild Friends Nut Butter asked me if I wanted to try out one of their products, I had to. I love the idea of Keeley and Erika randomly making peanut butter in their apartment…which then was the impetus for a brand new company. I love the magical feeling behind that serendipitous creativity. And, again, this is a company that strives to use non-GMO, organic, whole foods (the way it should be, right?) in all of their delicious creations.
And I have to be completely honest with you. I’m a sucker for peanut butter….especially chocolate peanut butter. As soon as I got my package, I opened the jar, took out a spoon and went to town. This peanut butter is out of this world, everyone. No lie. It’s creamy and sweet with a perfect balance of peanuts, coconut, and chocolate (they sent me their Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter, but I’m dying to try out their Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter AND their Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter.)
I decided to run with an idea I had been playing around with in my head for a while. I took one of my favorite pretzel bite recipes, but converted it so that it incorporated whole wheat flour. (I ended up going with half white flour and half whole wheat flour-I wanted to keep that soft, chewy pretzel feel and I was afraid that using all whole wheat flour would weigh it down. If you are feeling adventurous, please feel free to increase the amount of whole wheat flour here and play around with it. I loved the end result that I got here, but next time I might try upping the whole wheat component.) As far as preparing for this, it’s helpful to freeze the peanut butter beforehand, and you must work quickly so that it doesn’t melt when you work with it. I piped my peanut butter into small dots-about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces- on some parchment paper and let it freeze while the dough was rising. It worked really well.
I sprinkled some salt and sugar crystals on top to add to the sweetness a bit-and I decided that this was a great idea. Nothing beats a pretzel bite, people. Nothing.
Whole Wheat Peanut Butter-Filled Pretzel Bites (with Wild Friends Nut Butter)
Servings: about 40-50 pretzel bites
For the pretzel bites:
1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115°F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115°F)
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more if needed and for rolling your dough
1/2 cup Wild Friends Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter, or more if you like
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
For brushing onto the warm pretzel bites:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Sugar crystals, for sprinkling
1. For the pretzel bites: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar and warm water, and let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5-6 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, stir remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar into warm milk until dissolved.
3. With the mixer running on low speed, add both of the flours and the brown sugar/milk to the yeast mixture, mixing until a soft dough forms, adding up to 1/2 cup additional whole wheat flour, if necessary.
4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times to form a smooth ball.
5. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with a light towel and let rise at room temperature, about 2 hours. (Meanwhile, if you choose to pipe your peanut butter out onto parchment paper and freeze it, now would be a good time.)
6. Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the racks in the upper and lower thirds, and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces.
8. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then gently roll and stretch 1 piece of dough to form a 12-inch-long rope.
9. Flatten dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12- by 4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin.
10. Gently press the frozen peanut butter drops into the lower third of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along bottom edge.
11. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over the peanut butter drops and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope.
12. Cut the rope into individual pieces (you will be able to feel the frozen peanut butter inside the dough, so you will know where to cut it), squeezing the dough around the peanut butter on either side to tightly seal the pretzel bite and transfer to your prepared pan.
13. Repeat the process, making three more ropes with remaining dough and peanut butter and cut into pieces, transferring to the prepared baking pans.
14. Let the pretzel bites rest at room temperature, uncovered, about 30 minutes.
15. Meanwhile, the six cups of water to a boil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan.
16. Reduce heat to medium and stir in baking soda. (Careful-the water will bubble and rise!)
17. Cook the pretzel bites in batches in the water, turning once, until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds.
18. Transfer with a slotted spoon or tongs to prepared baking sheets.
19. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes (cheese may ooze slightly).
20. Immediately after removing the pretzel bites from the oven, lightly brush each one with the melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt and sugar crystals.
Source: Pretzel bites adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious.