Cream Cheese Filled Pretzels
If there’s one Disney snack I think doesn’t get nearly enough love and attention, it’s the cream cheese filled pretzels that you can get at Refreshment Corner on Main Street!
I love feeling the warmth of the pretzel in my hand and seeing the cream cheese ooze out when you pull it apart. The cream cheese is so light and sweet and the pretzel dough so soft like a heavenly cloud.
First things first, gather ingredients! I always like to measure out everything I’m going to need before I get started because it’s such a nice feeling to just dump whatever you have into your recipe as soon as it’s called for. But this also means I end up using a lot of bowls and spoons in the process. Anyone else have this issue?
These ingredients are pretty standard for dough, I think. The egg needed in this recipe is actually used only for the egg wash for the pretzels, so you won’t be using much of it. I usually just pan fry remaining eggs from my recipes so that I don’t waste it!
The Baking Process
The dough making process went pretty smoothly for me this time around! I ended up adding a couple of additional tablespoons of flour while I kneaded the dough before it started pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
My dough didn’t rise! It was smooth and a bit tacky which I was expecting and to help the dough rise, I preheated my oven to 200F and turned it off before putting the dough in the oven with the door cracked open. This was supposed to help the dough rise because it provided additional warmth. BUT I did actually use expired yeast (oops), and on top of that I didn’t actually measure the temperature of my water before mixing in the yeast. So there’s a chance I may have killed the yeast with water that was too hot?? I used the same yeast on my Mickey beignets and they had no problems rising, so I’m tempted to believe it was the water that killed it. I ended up waiting 2 hours before trying to save it, so I quickly searched for some tips for saving unrisen dough and here’s what I tried:
Warmth and moisture is supposed to help activate the yeast, so I microwaved a cup of water until it boiled then put the dough in the microwave with the cup of water so that I could leverage the warmth and the steam. I waited for about 30 minutes and still saw no change.
So the next thing I tried was opening another packet of instant yeast (also expired, sadly) and sprinkled about 1/3 to 1/2 of the packet straight into the dough, kneading until the yeast was incorporated. Then I put it back in the warm microwave and waited another 30 minutes. Still nothing.
Oh well, live and learn!
While the dough was “rising” I prepped the cream cheese filling which was a really simple process. All you have you do is mix the powdered sugar into the cream cheese, but make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature so that it comes out smooth! Otherwise the cream cheese will be chunky. The amount of powdered sugar you actually need will depend on how sweet you like it! ¼ cup was plenty for me and maybe even too sweet since I didn’t think to taste it early on in the mixing. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup, which would have been way too sweet for me.
After basically 3 hours of waiting and trying to get the dough to rise, I ended up just continuing with the recipe using the dough as it was and I had no problems with it. I divided the dough into 8 pieces to make 8 mini pretzels.
The filling process is pretty simple, but make sure you don’t pipe too much cream cheese onto the flattened dough otherwise it’ll leak out of the dough as you twist it, which I experienced with a couple of the pretzels. The twisting process is also pretty fun, though I can’t do it like the pros at Auntie Anne’s!
This recipe uses baking soda instead of lye, which is just as well because I think I’d be pretty afraid to use lye after reading about it. I poached each pretzel in a boiling pot of water and baking soda for a minute then placed them on a sheet of parchment paper. They came out looking kind of wrinkly and I was afraid that’s how they were going to end up. But after I applied the egg wash and sprinkled my toppings, then baked them, they came out smooth and puffed and looked absolutely amazing! So I guess the yeast did do something!
I have to say, I’m pretty proud of how these turned out! The cream cheese actually broke out at some of the seams, but honestly, I don’t hate it! I think it actually makes them look pretty cool! (And of course I had to sneak those Mickey shapes in there)
The texture of the pretzels came out great! They had a little more bite to them than the pretzels from Disneyland, but it was more just a different texture than a bad one. And the cream cheese was light and sweet. Overall, it tasted amazing and I had to stop myself from eating from eating more!
This recipe turned out to be a raving success in my book, and I’d love to try this again with yeast that rises to see what the difference would be! Fortunately, I know that the results will turn out delicious either way!
When I get back to the parks, this mouthwatering treat is going to be one of the firsts on my list! But in the meantime, I’m glad I can still enjoy them at home!
Cream Cheese Filled Pretzels
ºoº 1 cup of hot water
ºoº ½ tbsp sugar
ºoº ½ envelope of instant yeast
ºoº 2 ½ cups flour
ºoº ½ tbsp salt
ºoº 1 tbsp baking soda
ºoº 1 egg
Cream cheese filling
ºoº 4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
ºoº ¼ cup powdered sugar
Toppings ºoº ½ tsp cinnamon (to taste)
ºoº ½ tsp sugar (to taste)
1. Mix the hot water and the sugar until the sugar dissolves
2. Check that the water is below 110F then add in the yeast and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt together
4. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour
5. Using a dough hook, mix the wet and dry ingredients together on low for 30 seconds
6. Beat the mixture on medium speed until the sides pull away from the bowl. Add flour as needed 1 tbsp at a time if the mixture is too wet
7. Further knead the dough on a floured surface until the dough is smooth
8. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a plastic wrap and allow it to sit until it doubles in size
9. While the dough is rising, prepare the cream cheese filling. Mix the cream cheese with the powdered sugar until smooth.
10. Punch down the dough and divide it evenly based on how many pretzels you want to make (I made 8 mini pretzels)
11. Roll each piece into a long strip and flatten the strip until it’s roughly one inch wide
12. Gently pipe the cream cheese filling in the center of the widened strip
13. Pinch the top and bottom edges together along the length of the strip so that the cream cheese is wrapped within the dough. Be sure to pinch these tight so that the cream cheese doesn’t leak out!
14. Twist the dough strip into a pretzel shape
15. Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and boil it with baking soda on medium-high heat
16. Using a slotted spoon, place each pretzel into the boiling water and poach for 1 minute. You can do this one or a couple a time
17. Remove from water and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
18. Beat the egg to create an egg wash and brush each pretzel with the egg wash
19. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top of each pretzel
20. Bake at 450F for 12-15 minutes until they are puffed and golden brown and remove from the oven
ºoº It’s important that the water that you’re using to create the yeast mixture is not too hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast and your dough will not rise
ºoº I ended up adding about 3-4 additional tbsp of flour to my dough while kneading it with the dough hook
ºoº Taste your cream cheese filling as you mix in powdered sugar so it’s to your liking. The original recipe called for ½ cup, but by ¼ cup I felt that it was already plenty sweet