¼teaspooncoarse salt, optional depending on saltiness of cheese
Homemade Pretzel Bites:
Mix the warm water, brown sugar, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for a minute or two. If you are using active yeast instead of instant yeast, let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to bloom and becomes fragrant. Add the flour and melted butter to the bowl.
Mix with a wooden spoon as much as you can. Then, use your hands to knead the dough until a smooth even mixture remains.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
Once the dough has risen, turn out of the bowl and cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into about an 18 inch tube. Cut each tube into 1.5 inch pieces and lay the pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and bring a large pot of water to a boil with the ½ cup of baking soda.
Once the water is boiling, boil the soft pretzel bites in small batches for 10 seconds each. Remove the bites from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.
Arrange the boiled bites on a parchment lined baking sheet with a little bit of space between each bite. Beat the large egg and brush the bites with the egg and top with coarse salt.
Reduce heat as soon as you put the pretzels in the oven and bake the pretzel bites at 350°F for 12 minutes each - bake in batches one sheet pan at a time and make sure not to crowd the pan.
If you are working in batches, reheat the oven to 450°F and reduce each time you add a new batch.
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium low. Add flour to the warm butter and mix until a smooth paste is formed.
Pour milk into the pan in small batches whisking constantly as you pour in the milk.
Turn the heat off and add the cheese to the pan and mixing constantly until the cheese is melted.
Mix in the salt, if needed, and smoked paprika and serve while hot.
If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.