Soft Pretzels from Epcot's Biergarten Restaurant

Some snacks can get you all tied up in knots just thinking about them, or making them. Today's recipe request is for the Soft Pretzels at Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot's Germany Pavilion.

Pretzel lovers are divided into two camps: crisp or chewy. Food historians say the soft form is the older of the two savory treats. For toppings, coarse salt and mustard are a must.

Biergarten serves a traditional German buffet featuring all the favorites.

Yield: 10 servings.

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 F-115 F)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 Tblsp water
Coarse salt
Prepared mustard (optional)


Instructions:

1. Stir and dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in salt, sugar, and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

2. Cut dough into 3-ounce pieces and roll into a ball. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Roll out dough into strings and then twist dough pieces in the middle. Pick up dough string with two hands, each hand holding one end. Attach the ends to the dough in a pretzel shape. Place pretzel on baking sheet and allow to proof until pretzel string thickness is about double as thick (place in a warm spot with a damp towel on top).

3. Whisk the eggs with water. Brush egg wash on top of pretzels after they proof. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Put on to baking sheets and bake at 400 F for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Dip in prepared mustard if desired.

Sweet Potato Hazelnut Gratin at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Gratins are baked dishes that are topped with cheese or a bread-crumb mixture, then heated until brown and crispy. In cookbooks, you will find recipes for au gratins or gratines. These terms refer to foods prepared in such a manner.

Kitchen stores sell shallow round or oval gratin pans. The shape and depth of these pieces increase a prepared food's surface to create a crispy layer when the toppings are broiled. But any shallow baking dish will work just fine.

Yield: 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

4 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup maple syrup
5 Tblsp unsalted butter
2 cups whole hazelnuts blanched
4 cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tblsp salt


Instructions:

1. Using a knife or the cutting-disk attachment of your food processor, slice peeled sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. In a small pot, combine whipping cream, maple syrup and butter and warm on low heat until butter melts. Take the pan off the heat and reserve.

3. Place the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and insert them into a preheated 375 F oven and roast until they turn golden brown in color. Remove and let cool then chop with a knife or food processor to a slightly ruff consistency, not to fine. Next place the bread crumbs, chopped hazelnuts and the brown sugar into a bowl and mix together. This will be the topping of the gratin.

4. Take the bowl with the potato slices and season them with salt. Next add 2/3 of the cream mixture and 2 cups of the topping and toss together coating the potatoes.

5. Next spray a 9-by-12 inch baking dish with your favorite pan spray and place the potato mixture in the dish. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to get all the bits. Then press the potatoes into the pan with your hands to compact and level the slices.

6. Pour the remaining cream mixture over potatoes then cover with baking paper and foil and place into a 375 F oven for 45-55 minutes. When you remove the dish, the sweet potatoes should be just cooked. Add the remaining topping in an even layer and place dish back into oven.

7. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake until crust turns a golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10minutes before serving.

About this restaurant:

Disney's Wilderness Lodge features a lush Northwestern American decor throughout. The Fort Wilderness Resort Campground has rustic cabins with modern amenities.