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cheese, beer, cheese, pretzels & cheese


While in Germany, do as the Germans do. That’s the saying, right? Well, in Germany, they drink a lot of beer, eat pretzels (and lots of other REALLY good bread!) and throw back a ton of cheese!

You can count on doubling down on that cheese when you’re in Switzerland. All of that led to a lot of cheese at my German-Swiss Dinner Party.


The onslaught of cheese began when guests arrived, at the appetizer table. I served our family favorite, Blue Cheese Fondue with bread, cherry tomatoes, salted baby potatoes, and Belgium endive spears. Directly next to the fondue pots was a raclette grill. What is Raclette?

  • ra·clette

    1. a Swiss dish of melted cheese, typically eaten with potatoes.
    2. a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 6 kg (13 lb). It is most commonly used for melting. It is also a French dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part.
    3. a traditional Swiss dish that dates back to the time when cowherds would pasture their animals high in the Alps and camp alongside them. There, they would cut open their wheels of cheese and warm them on a rock by the campfire, scraping the edge of the cheese as it melted over cooked potatoes, pickles, and ham for the most rustic of meals. Raclette comes from the French verb racler, to scrape.


Raclette cheese (as seen above – when we enjoyed it in Gruyere, Switzerland) can be found at specialty stores year-round and at Trader Joe’s during the holidays. It wasn’t available at TJ’s yet and I didn’t feel like going to another store, so I used a delicious apple-pie cheddar, Gouda, and Gruyere in my raclette grill.


The cheese was served with the same accompaniments that we enjoyed in Switzerland; boiled potatoes, pickled onions, gherkin pickles, and thick slices of bread.


This is my raclette grill, it’s not as big and fancy as the Swiss version. It has eight small grill pans that slide under the broiler along with a granite top that heats up and can keep accompaniments warm if desired. I served the accompaniments at room temperature, off to the side.


To go with all that cheese, I whipped up some homemade mini-pretzels. The large ham and Swiss cheese pretzel sandwich pictured above is one that I devoured in Munich. It was SO good!


My pretzels were a bit tamer.


Buttered Mini-Pretzels

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups warm water, divided
  • 3 ¼ cups flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter, divided

Place yeast and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 1/2 cup of the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to proof the yeast.

Once the yeast bubbled up and activated, add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and beat with the paddle attachment until well combined. Then add the remaining 1 cup of warm water and the remaining 2 ¼ cups of flour, mix until combined, and then switch from the paddle to the dough hook and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and pliable.

Remove dough from the bowl. Lightly grease the same bowl with some of the softened butter, return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.


Divide dough into 4 equal portions on a lightly floured counter. Working with 1 portion at a time, divide each of those portions into 16 pieces. On the floured counter, roll each piece into a long snake shape, and set it aside.


Once you have the first 16 “snakes” rolled out, take the first snake you rolled and roll it out a little longer. (letting the dough sit for a couple of minutes allows the gluten to rest and you are able to roll it out further without it snapping back – it becomes less elastic.)

Shape each piece into a pretzel as shown below. Then go back and do the same with the three remaining portions, until you have a total of 64 mini-pretzels.


Shape each “snake” of dough into a horseshoe.


Twist once.


Then twist again.


Bring up the ends to press firmly to create each pretzel.

As each pretzel is shaped, place it on parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. As each baking sheet is filled, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Stir baking soda with 1/2 cup hot water, brush pretzels with the mixture, then lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in the center of preheated oven until lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately brush with softened butter and sprinkle with more sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Makes 64

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1 comment

1 Marissa { 10.13.16 at 7:06 AM }

This is my dream! Definitely need to head to Germany…

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