Cheesy Beer Dip For Pretzels

Who loves a good dip. I’d be happy just dipping my pretzel into mustard truth be told, but I was thinking of a beer cheese dip a local restaurant near me serves; but it’s almost impossible to get a table there without waiting for an hour. It had me reminiscing the last time I’d had it, so decided to just whip one up. The pretzel recipe is one I’ve made before but this time I tweaked it a bit by baking the baking soda ahead of time. Yes, that’s right- you heard me right. I’d seen this trick posted several times on Pinterest and decided to give it a try and it did not disappoint. The reason for “baking” the baking soda [haha] is that it draws out some of the moisture and makes your pretzels darker like those of the German style that uses actual lye. Another trick is to use barley malt syrup-but if you’re like me I don’t particularly like to buy an ingredient I most likely won’t use again for something else and it will just take up space in the cupboard.

Cheesy Beer Dip

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

5 Tablespoons flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/8 tsp. onion powder

3/4 Cup milk, room temp or warmed slightly

2 1/2 tsp. spicy brown mustard (I used Guldens brand)

1 Cup lager beer, room temp (measure w/no foam) *[I used Four Peaks Kilt lifter Octoberfest] a local beer]

1 1/4 Cups pepper jack cheese shredded (use from a block and not pre-shredded)

1 1/4 Cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (use from a block and not pre-shredded)

Serve warm or at room temperature with soft pretzels.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and then add the flour and the seasonings. Heat over medium-low heat to cook the flour mixture for about 5 minutes whisking the entire time. Add in the milk slowly whisking to avoid lumps until smooth, then whisk in the mustard. Slowly and gradually add in the beer whisking entire time and cook for about 3 minutes until appears thickened. Slowly stir in the cheeses with the whisk until combined and melted. Taste for seasoning; if you like your dip more zingy you could add in the finely diced jalapenos or hatch green chilis if you like.

For the pretzel bites; I used the same recipe as my soft buttered pretzels (click on my link below) but prepared the baking soda by laying out on a tinfoil lined sheet tray a cup of baking soda and “baked” that at 250 degrees F for one hour and then allowed the baking soda to cool. Use the same amount of baking soda that is called for in the recipe to ‘dip’ into the boiled water for prepping the pretzels and bake as directed. I simply portioned the dough and rolled into logs and cut off about 1 inch pieces. I used the same dipping method. For pretzel nibs I found it took me about 14 1/2 to 15 minutes to get my pretzel bites cooked thoroughly inside. Pull out your tray and sacrifice one to check for doneness.

Spicy Cheese Bread

I’m gonna make this post brief, cuz it’s Sunday night and I have a massive laundry pile to fold. I’m a recipe hoarder. Magazine hoarder. I hang onto recipes knowing at some point I will get around to it and tuck it away somewhere in a safe space. I’ve been know to loiter in the grocery store and screen shot a recipe out of magazine after finding some obsolete quiet corner to do the dirty deed. I’m not proud of it. I know more than a few of you have done the same, so don’t judge me. In this case I’m proud to admit I actually bought the magazine when thumbing through I saw this and a few others that looked like keepers. Spicy Cheese bread. You had me about spicy, but then you taunt me with cheesy and I’m all in.

This a an afternoon lazy day, weekend sort of recipe. You quick whip it together, let it rise, shape it and rises again (as you fold your laundry) and then you bake that big ol cheesy nugget of spicy goodness off.

Oh the smells coming out of the oven as it bakes. Heaven.

Spicy Cheese Bread

(recipe slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated) “All time best Winter recipes 2020”

3 /14 Cups all-purpose flour

1/4 C sugar

1 Tbsp. instant rise (rapid rise) yeast

1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes + more for sprinkling on top

1 1/4 tsp. salt (calls for table salt; I used Kosher) + more for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs + one yolk

1/2 C warm water (110 degrees) F

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted

6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes, room temp

6 oz. Provolone cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes, room temp

Additional for topping

1 egg lightly beaten for “egg wash”

2 pinches kosher salt

3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. soft butter

In a bowl of a stand mixer place the flour and the next 4 ingredients and whisk to combine, set aside.

Whisk eggs and yolk, warm water, and melted butter together in a liquid measuring cup. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead on medium speed about 8-10 minutes or until the dough clears the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Grease a large bowl with some vegetable oil. Remove the dough and shape on the counter (un floured) into a ball.

Transfer the ball to the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to rise for 1 1/2 -2 hours until it is doubled in size.

Grease a 9 inch round cake pan. Remove the dough to an un-floured counter and deflate the dough. Roll the dough into a 18 x 12 inch long rectangle with the long edge paralell to the counters edge. Distribute the cheese cubes evenly over the dough leaving a 1 inch edge border on all sides. Starting with the edge closest to you roll the dough tightly as you can into a log. Pinch the seam and edges to seal. Roll the log gently on the counter back and forth until it reaches 30 inches in length.

Starting at one end, wind the log into a coil (like a snail) and place in the prepared cake pan and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel to let rise until doubled in size; about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Brush the top of the bread with the beaten egg; just enough to cover the bread and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and kosher salt (about 2 pinches of salt and 3/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes).

Bake the bread in the preheated over for 25 minutes, then turn the tray around and cover with aluminum foil and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until an internal temperature check reads 190 degrees F.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and brush with the 1 tablespoon of soft butter. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool for 30 minutes until slicing. Serve warm.

I made a white bean, chicken and green chili yesterday and tearing off pieces of this dipped into warm soup is scrumptious.

Spicy Cheese Bread

Key Lime Bundt Cake

I have a friend who admittedly has a key lime tree for the sole purpose that “They fit perfectly inside a Corona bottle” and here in Arizona they produce limes for longer. Ha! That sounds like a good reason albeit, but I can think of many many more, like this cake. If you’re team cake vs. team pie, then this cake is for you. It’s perfect for potluck or family gathering. You can make it the day before even. This cake is loaded with lime flavor. There is the super moist cake bursting with plenty of lime flavor but then there is the lime cream cheese swirl (you can see it near the top of the slice) that is crazy delish, finished off with a sweet tangy key lime glaze. This is one of those cakes that actually tastes better the second day.

Key Lime Bundt Cake

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk

3 Cups plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1/3 Cup plus 2 Tbsp. key lime juice, divided (I used bottled Nellie & Joes)

5 large eggs, room temp, divided

1 Cup unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 Cups granulated sugar, divided

1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 Tbsp. (regular lime) zest; about 5 medium limes

2 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs, plus a little more for garnish on top of cake

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 Cups buttermilk, room temp (or alternatively you can use 1 1/4 Cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. white vinegar and allow to sit for 15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325 F. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. of the flour, condensed milk, and 2 Tbsp. of the key lime juice on medium speed until smooth. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the mixer bowl with a paper towel to clean.

In the clean mixer bowl beat the butter (no need to clean the paddle) along with 1 1/2 cups sugar, brown sugar, and lime zest on medium low speed until just combined. increase to medium speed and beat until fluffy and light; about 3-4 minutes. Add remaining 4 eggs one at a time and mix until combined. The mixture will look curdled, but it will come together once the flour is added. In a separate bowl whisk together the rest of the flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk (or milk/vinegar) mixture starting and ending with the flour mixture; beating just until combined.

Spray a 15 cup bundt pan with baking spray that has flour in it. Spread 3 1/2 cups of the cake batter into the bundt pan and spread evenly. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Add the cream cheese lime filling on top of the batter gently being careful to keep a 1/4 inch edge free border as much as possible. Drag a knife through gently in a snake motion to swirl the filling a bit. Repeat with gently layering the rest of the cake batter on top of the filling and smooth on top. Bake in the preheated oven 55-65 minutes or until a few moist crumbs return when poked with a wooden skewer. Cover the cake with tinfoil as needed partially through the baking time to avoid excess browning. Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes while you prepare the lime syrup.

Key Lime Syrup

Place wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. In a small cereal size bowl mix the remaining 1/3 cup key lime juice and the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Remove and with a long wooden skewer poke the top of the cake while it is still in the pan all over and spoon over 1/2 of the lime syrup. Place a long strip of parchment paper over the top of the cake about 4 inches wide. This will help you flip over the cake onto the wire rack more easily. Carefully pull out the parchment paper and spoon the rest of the lime syrup over the cake while the cake is still warm. Allow the cake to cool before applying the glaze.

Key Lime Glaze

In a small bowl combine 1 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. warm water, and 2 tsp. of key lime juice and whisk to combine. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake and sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs over the glaze quickly before it sets.

Keep the cake covered at room temperature in either a cake dome or with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.

The cake keeps nicely and tastes even better the second day!


Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

The dark sweet cherries this week were everywhere in the stores and just begging me to bring some home. Mind you, I had no idea what I wanted to make with them; the possibilities of what to bake were swarming around in my little brain for days before I was prompted to finally dig them out of the fridge. I was in the mood for nothing too fussy, (decorating wise) so a cake was out as I just wanted to whip something together for a friendly potluck get together with my friends and neighbors. It bears repeating the the freshest ingredients and a simple bake can create something spectacular. It’s all about the wonderful fresh sweet cherries. It does take some time to pit and slice the cherries; but with a couple bowls on the table while watching TV; and a cloth to wipe my hands frequently, (it did look like a bit of a horror show with my red stained hands) they were pitted in no time. These were a huge hit and will definitely be a yearly favorite. The Husband who rarely comments on my sweets said he thought this one was a “keeper”.

Cherry Filling

5 Cups (615 gm) fresh dark sweet cherries

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

1 Cup sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/2 Cup all purpose flour

Prepare the cherries: Wash, remove stems and pit the cherries. Then cut the cherries in half and place in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and extracts. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the bowl and mix gently to coat the cherries. Set aside while you prepare the crust; which is also the topping.

Crumb base and topping

3 Cups all purpose flour

1 Cup + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x13 inch pan; spray with non-stick spray and then line with a parchment sling, so you have an overhang on the long sides of the baking pan. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the cold cubed butter and with a pastry blender combine the ingredients until the mixture is coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and extracts with a fork to combine. Add into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Divide the mixture in half. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Pour the cherry filling over the mixture; spread gently so it is even. Toss the remaining mixture of crumbs over the filling; leaving some larger clumps/crumbs and smaller crumbs so you have a variety of sized crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar on top of the crumbs. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake at 375 F for about 50-55 mins. Check the bake around the 40 min. mark and if necessary cover the pan with tinfoil if the crumbs are getting too dark. Bake until the top is golden brown and the mixture just starts to bubble up around the sides of the pan. Remove and allow to cool over a wire rack.

When the bars are cool, lift out the parchment sling and cut into desired size. If you want cleaner less crumbly cut; you can chill the bars in the fridge before cutting.

Chocolate Malt Whopper Cake

This cake is not a strong hit you in the face malted flavor, but rather the wonderful crunch of the whoppers in the filling along with the really flavorful malty vanilla buttercream give it a nice change to your average traditional chocolate cake. If you really love whoppers you could go all out and even crush some on top of the cake. I just love the simple crown of whoppers adorning the cake. I made this for a dear friend of mine who happens to be a wonderful neighbor as well. She’s part of my squad if you will. There are six of us; 3 couples (my Husband and I), and the 2 other couples who are all neighbors and we get together at least once a week to hang out, swim in the pool, drink or just relax and have a great time. There’s always laughs and good food, and I always bring the cake if it’s a special occasion.

Chocolate Malt Cake

1 3/4 Cup Flour

2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cup” Hershey’s Special Dark” cocoa powder, sieved (you can used original Hershey’s cocoa powder also)

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup milk

5 Tbsp. malted milk powder

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 Cup very hot coffee

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch cakes pans. Heat the milk in the microwave until very hot and whisk in the malted milk powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Whisk in the milk mixture until combined, then stir in eggs along with the oil and whisk vigorously until combined. Using the same whisk stir in the hot coffee and vanilla until batter is smooth. The batter will be very thin. Divide batter into equal parts into the 3 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 26 mins or until a skewer inserted reveals a few moist crumbs. Depending on your oven; you may want to rotate your pans half way through for even baking. Do NOT overbake or cake will be dry. Allow cakes to cook in their pans over a wire rack until cooled.

This is the chocolate bar I like to use to grate over the filling. I also comes in pound plus large bars. I love this chopped up in chocolate chip cookies in large chunks instead of traditional chips.

Malted Milk Vanilla Buttercream

2 1/2 Tablespoons hot milk whisked with 5Tablespoons malted milk powder (I used Carnation brand)

5 oz. pasteurized liquid egg whites by weight (141 g)

1 lb, plus 4 oz. by weight confectioners sugar, sifted (567 g)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lb and 1/4 unsalted butter (2 1/2 C) , softened but slightly cool

2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together the hot milk and malted milk powder as above and set aside to cool.

*You will need whopper candies and some additional dark bittersweet chocolate in bar form. I like the Trader Joes Belgium dark chocolate brand. See below for details.

In a bowl of a stand mixer whisk together by hand first (to avoid a mess) the egg whites ,salt and confectioners sugar just to combine, then using the whisk attachment whisk on high for approximately 6 minutes until thickened and combined; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on med high, start adding in the butter a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Mix in malted milk mixture until combined, then switch to the paddle attachment and whip for a couple minutes; this helps to ensure the buttercream is really smooth.

  • Crush a couple handfuls of whoppers to break up so you have both small pieces and larger pieces.
  • Approx. 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate divided. Melt 1.75 oz -2 oz (in this case I used one small bar of Trader Joes 1.75 oz bar) of bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool; to use for decorating; the remainder will be used to grate over the filled layers to add in some chocolate flavor.

To assemble the cake; Fill the first and second layers with 2 1/2 ice cream scoop size of buttercream and top with a generous grating of shaved chocolate using a large hole rasp, then top with some crushed whopper pieces. Top with the third cake layer and do a thin crumb coating of buttercream. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes before finishing with the rest of your buttercream. Frost the top and sides first with the malted buttercream. To achieve the ombre effect; save one cup to 1 1/2 cup of buttercream, and in a small bowl combine with some of the melted chocolate to achieve a darker shade of buttercream, spread this along the bottom 2/3rds of the cake and using a bench scraper smooth. Dot the rest of the melted chocolate along the bottom of the of the cake about an inch worth and continue to smooth and scrape and add in any random spots of melted chocolate to you reach the desired effect. Top the cake along the border with whole whopper pieces. Chill until ready to serve and let the cake come to room temperature to serve.

You can drag a little of the melted chocolate along the top of the cake for a marbled effect