To this day, the best part about going to the mall is the mall food. I know, you're all probably like, ew, what? No. Think about it. Who doesn't like the bourbon chicken samples at the food court, the gigantic pizza slices, and the famous giant cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon? I'll have one of everything plz and thank you.
My ultimate weakness has always been Auntie Anne's. When we were little, my siblings and I would convince my mom that we needed to buy some pretzels before leaving the mall. We'd always get 1 original, 1 almond pretzel and a giant lemonade and share it between the 4 of us. Mom would sneak in a few bites too.
One night after a couple hours of shopping at the mall, my mom, sisters, and I were heading back to Macy's so we could get to our car before the mall closed. We happened to pass by Auntie Anne's, and the workers were packing up getting ready to leave. One guy was bagging up all the unsold pretzels. Right when we turned our heads to look at them, the guy lifted up his head and saw us staring, and asked us if we'd like the extras. Like, the whole bag. Filled with the doughy goodness that is a soft pretzel. We couldn't believe our luck. It was like Christmas.
I was strongly reminded of that fun memory when I was baking these brioche pretzels, a recipe that I found from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman and immediately bookmarked. Unlike regular pretzels that are boiled in baking soda water and then baked, these only required baking and just a little bit of time to let the dough rise. In the original recipe, Deb adds chocolate chips to her brioche pretzels. I went a little crazy with my add ins and put in white chocolate chips and chopped apricots, then topped them with sliced almonds. The resulting combination is sweet, nutty, and when you get a piece of apricot in a bite, there's a little zing. And the entire baking process was therapeutic for me. There's something absolutely beautiful about punching down risen dough, and the delicious smell of the baked pretzels is still lingering in the apartment as I write this post. These brioche pretzels are well worth the effort.
White chocolate apricot almond brioche pretzels
1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, and lightly beaten
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 egg for the egg wash
Whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. Set aside.
In a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs and the yeast mixture, and mix at a low speed until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Continue to beat for another 3 minutes.
Add the butter and mix. The dough will be sticky, but that's okay!
Take the dough out of the bowl and knead until silky and smooth on a lightly floured surface.
Add the white chocolate chips and apricots to the dough, and knead it around a little more to make sure all the chips and apricots are incorporated into the dough. It will look a little wet, if it's too wet go ahead and knead in more flour, but I did not do so.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm spot for 2 hours or until almost doubled (it took me a little longer than 2 hours)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Punch down the doguh and divide it into eight pieces. Working with each piece one at a time, roll out the piece into a long rope. To form the pretzel, draw the ends of a rope together to form a circl. About 2 inches from both ends, twist the rope ends together to close the circle. Fold the twist down into the circle and adhere the loose ends of the rope to the base of the pretzel. Repeat this to make 8 pretzel twists.
Transfer the twists to the baking sheet, and brush them with the egg wash. Lightly press the sliced almonds on the tops of the pretzels, then let them rest for 15 minutes.
Brush the pretzels one more time with the egg wash, then bake them for 15 minutes, or until puffed and lightly bronzed.
Cool slightly on a rack before serving, then enjoy!
Dessert pretzels for everyone!