I think I’ll take the award for coolest mom ever today (I’m only joking, but after making these, I’m feeling like my kids think I’m seriously amazing). My family has become serious pretzel lovers, all thanks to my husband. He has always loved them so he started taking my kids to get them at the mall. Now, they request to go get them at least once a week. We only live 10 minutes away from the mall which has two Auntie Anne’s so we definitely haven’t had a shortage of them. My kids are always begging to go, and even though I’m not much of a mall person I’m always game for food. The last time we went we made the switch from the regular salted pretzels (with that nasty cheese sauce my kids love) to the cinnamon sugar version. We are hooked on those now. What happens then? I usually try to find a way to make it at home if we love something that much. Plus, I thought theirs could seriously use a sweet and fluffy cream cheese dipping sauce to pair with them (it’s like a cinnamon roll meets mall pretzels = best upgrade ever).
I’m happy to say, these taste just like the Auntie Anne version if not better. With cream cheese and cinnamon sugar covered smiles on their faces my kids highly approved (my four year old also says these are “home pretzels” not “mall pretzels”. While we were making them together, I kept referring to them as mall pretzels and she kept telling me, “no Mom, they’re home pretzels” – since we were making them at home of course). My husband also agreed that they were amazing, after trying just one he said he didn’t need dinner anymore.
You too are going to be hooked on these and you’ll love the fact that you can indulge in a large batch in the comfort of your home. You could even make half of them coated in cinnamon sugar and the other half with coarse salt if you’d prefer (just be sure to add the salt before baking though). Enjoy!
Auntie Anne’s Copycat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites
Yield: 6 servings
- 1 (1/4 oz) pkg active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water , 110 degrees
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter , melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce
- 4 oz cream cheese , softened
- 2 Tbsp butter , softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
For the pretzel bites:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine 1 cup warm water, yeast and 1/2 tsp granulated sugar, whisk to dissolve and allow to rest 10 minutes. Fit mixer with whisk attachment and mix in remaining granulated sugar (1 Tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp), brown sugar, vegetable oil and salt. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in bread flour and mix until well blended. Switch attachment to the hook attachment and slowly add in all-purpose flour. Knead mixture on low speed until smooth an elastic, adding up to an additional 1/4 cup flour as needed (you want a soft dough and it may seem slightly sticky). Transfer to a lightly buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled in size (I like to let mine rest in the oven with the light on), 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down and divide into 6 equal portions. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dust tops of dough lightly with flour and cover the ones you aren't currently rolling loosely with plastic wrap (to prevent drying). Roll each portion into a rope about 24 to 28-inches long (you can do this by rolling or the method of pulling on each side and flicking upward like a jump rope while slapping onto the countertop). Cut into bite size pieces (about 1 1/4-inches each). Pour hot water and baking soda into a mixing bowl and whisk to dissolve. Using a slotted spoon, dip several pieces of dough into the water mixture, then lift and allow excess water to drip off, then transfer to a Silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat process working in batches and using two baking sheets, and rewarm water in microwave until hot between batches. Bake in preheated oven 8 - 11 minutes until tops are nicely golden brown. Remove from oven and using a slotted spoon, dip into melted butter, toss to evenly coat then lift and shake off excess. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest 2 minutes (I felt this just gave them time to absorb the butter, rather than having it all end up clumping the cinnamon sugar mixture).
Meanwhile in a small mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon until well blended. Dip butter coated pretzels into cinnamon sugar and toss to evenly coat. Serve warm with cream cheese dipping sauce (these are best served warm so I'd recommend rewarming them once they've cooled. To do so microwave on a plate for 10 - 20 seconds).
For the cream cheese dipping sauce:
In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until combined. Add heavy cream and whip until fluffy, about 2 minutes longer. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy