YOU GUYS. I did it. I really did it.
For the past few weeks I’d been devising a secret plan to figure out how to stuff a sandwich into a pretzel, or how to make a pretzel-covered corn dog, or how to put pizza fillings inside a pretzel stick, or how to make a pizza crust that tasted like a pretzel… and I couldn’t do it. No matter how hard my brain muscles worked and I squinted at myself in the mirror so as to inspire some sort of magical stuffed pretzel-making revelation, I only ended up with a headache and more eye wrinkles. Or crow’s feet. Whatever they call them.
Then it hit me. “What if I made a calzone, only I put it in a bath of boiling baking soda water (which always sounds gross) and then sprinkled it with salt and baked it and it was all stuffed with cheese and veggies and ham and gooey GOOEY GOODNESS?!” I said. Then I laughed maniacally and my eyes widened through my goggles and it started lightning and thundering and my hair stood on end and I woke up from my dream that was strikingly similar to “Young Frankenstein” and got to making these pretzel calzones for all ya’ll.
I can’t even to begin to describe the deliciousness that is this recipe. It’s everything I dreamed it would be and more. Salty pieces of ham are snuggled up alongside crisp roasted broccoli and melted sharp cheddar cheese inside a pocket of soft pretzel heaven. It tastes like the best calzone plus the best stuffed pretzel you’ll ever eat in your life. I do not exaggerate. And they’re very, very easy to make, as if you’re getting ready to make a calzone and then plop! you accidentally drop it in a bath of boiling baking soda water (yep, still sounds gross), toss a handful of salt on top and it magically becomes a pretzel in the oven. It’s one seriously tasty mad scientist creation.
Ham & Cheddar Stuffed Pretzel Calzones
A Girl Versus Dough original
Yields: 8 calzones
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
1 bunch broccoli, heads trimmed and cut into smaller heads
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups chopped deli ham
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
kosher or pretzel salt for topping calzones
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add in melted butter, flour and salt and, using the dough hook attachment, knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is slightly sticky and has completely pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, roast the broccoli: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Roast until lightly brown and slightly crunchy, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Keep oven on at 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
When dough is nearly doubled, prepare the water bath: Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large stockpot. When dough is doubled, remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into an 8-inch long circle. Place some cheddar, then some ham, then some broccoli in the center. Fold one end of the circle over to the other end to form a half moon; pinch ends tightly to seal. Repeat with each piece of dough.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower one calzone at a time into hot water bath and boil for 30 seconds, flipping over halfway through. Remove from water bath and place on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with each calzone. Brush calzones with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake 12-15 minutes or until calzones are a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.