Soft, golden, chewy crusted bagel bites filled with a tasty mix of mozzarella, cream cheese and jalapeño peppers.
For someone with very little interest in watching sport, I sure am interested in sports-watching snacks. I blame it on seeing so many groups of friends in American sitcoms watching “the game” and eating nachos, buffalo wings and potato skins – delicious! The existence of jalapeño poppers first came to my attention while watching the TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother’. They didn’t play a significant part in the plot, but whenever I watch TV I’m just as interested in what’s being eaten as I am in the storyline.
In theory, the jalapeño popper seems like my perfect bar snack – a crumbed, deep fried jalapeño pepper stuffed with cheese. In reality, the few I’ve tried never meet the expectations of my imagination. Either the cheese has escaped during the cooking process, the coating is too soggy, or the spice is too mild. I still love the idea of the cheese and jalapeño flavour combination though, so I took the essence of a jalapeño popper and put it in the middle of freshly baked bagel bite.
If jalapeño isn’t your thing, these will taste just as great if you swap in chives, or chopped sundried tomatoes, or diced chorizo. Basically anything you can imagine tasting good with bread and cheese will work.
The recipe uses a basic pizza dough, which can be made ahead of time if required. Simply follow the recipe up to the dough rising stage, then once doubled in size, punch the dough down, shape into a ball and transfer to a sealed container or ziplock bag. The dough will then keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. Simply remove it from the fridge and bring to room temperature when you’re ready to use.
When filling the bites, ensure the ball is tightly sealed with no gaps, otherwise the cheese will leak during cooking. The cheese mixture may become quite firm during the filling process, but don’t worry it will melt again in the oven.
If boiling the dough balls before baking seems like too much work, you can always skip this step – but taking a dip in this baking soda bath is what gives them their chewy bagel-like crust.
A pile of these served warm from the oven while the cheese is still molten might even be enough to distract the most avid sports watcher from the screen.
So are you like me and find yourself more interested in what fictional characters are eating rather than saying? What’s your favourite TV show for food inspiration? And if you don’t like jalapeños, what would you put in these bagel bites instead?
Jalapeño Popper Bagel Bites
- 375 ml warm water
- 1 T honey
- 2 t dried yeast (1 sachet)
- 600 g plain flour
- 1 t salt
- 60 ml olive oil
- 300 g mozzarella cheese grated
- 50 ml milk
- 250 g cream cheese
- 1 jar jalapeño peppers diced
- 50 g baking soda
- 1 egg beaten
- Flaky sea salt
- In a small bowl, dissolve the honey in warm water, then sprinkle yeast over the surface. Leave for 5 minutes until yeast begins to foam.
- Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in yeast mixture and oil, then lightly combine before transferring to a mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Knead on a medium speed for 5-7 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may find you need to add more flour or water as you go if the dough is too wet or dry.
- Turn the dough out onto the bench top and shape into a ball, then brush a little oil on the inside of the bowl.
- Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm for 30-60mins until doubled in size.
- To prepare the filling, melt the mozzarella and milk in a small saucepan over a gentle heat, stirring constantly to ensure the cheese doesn't brown.
- When melted, remove pan from heat and mix in cream cheese and jalapeño peppers, stirring until smooth. Return to the heat briefly to help it along if mozzarella has become too firm.
- Once dough has risen, punch it down in the bowl, tip out onto a floured bench, and reshape into a ball.
- Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F) and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten into a disc.
- Place a small spoonful of cheese mixture in the centre, and pinch the edges of the dough together to enclose the cheese. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add baking soda. Gently lower 3-4 filled dough balls at a time into the water and boil for 30-40 seconds, flipping over half way through. Remove from water and drain on a cooling rack.
- Transfer boiled dough balls to the lined baking tray, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown.
- Best served immediately while the cheese is still warm and molten.