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Dark Ale & Bitter Chocolate Pretzel Knots

With dark cocoa, bittersweet chocolate morsels, and a hearty bottle of stout beer, these homemade soft pretzel bread knots make for a savory treat with just the right touch of sweetness.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword beer, bread, chocolate, fantasy, fiction, knot, pretzel
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 servings
Calories 432 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ cup dark beer (preferably an Imperial Stout)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bitter chocolate morsels (65% - 80% cocoa)
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, for the egg wash
  • 1 large pot water
  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup pretzel salt


Prepare the Dough

  1. Grease a medium-sized bowl with the vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook, combine the yeast, brown sugar, and warm water (see note below). Stir up the mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes until thick and foamy. Add the beer, melted butter, and salt. Mix the ingredients together with the dough hook on low speed until combined.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients (all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and cocoa powder). Keeping the speed low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients one cup at a time until fully incorporated. Increase to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth, glossy, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Form the dough into a ball, and set it in the oiled bowl. Let it rise, covered with a clean towel, for one hour. It should double in size.

Form the Pretzel Shapes

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and whisk together the egg and water to make the eggwash. Start heating a large pot of water over high heat, until it reaches a gentle boil.
  2. Dump the dough out onto a clean surface and knead in the cup of chocolate morsels by hand. If the dough is too stiff, you can always skip this step and add a few morsels to each twist by hand as you go.
  3. Form the pretzels one at time into your preferred shape. For this recipe, I used a variation on a knotted twist shape: Take an amount of dough a little bigger than a golf ball, and roll it out into a rope about an inch thick and nine to twelve inches long (if you haven’t added the chocolate morsels yet, dot five or six along the rope).
  4. Fold the rope in half and twist the ends together, creating a loop on the folded end. Tuck the twisted ends up and under the loop, pressing the dough together where it meets for a knotted shape. Place finished buns on a clean plate and repeat until all the dough is used up.
  5. Once all the pretzels are formed, add the baking soda to the water slowly – be careful as it will bubble up. Drop the pretzels into the baking soda bath two or three at a time and let them boil for about 30 seconds. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and lay them on paper towels to drain.

Bake the Pretzels

  1. Arrange the soda-washed pretzels on the prepared baking sheet with at least an inch of space between. Brush each with the egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  2. Bake the pretzels for 10-15 minutes until browned. Be careful not to over cook, as the dough is dark and it may be difficult to tell. Store The dark ale pretzels in a sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days, in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze in a single layer and store in a freezer safe bag for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes

Using Yeast: An important thing to note is that active dry yeast is technically alive. The combination of sugar and warm water “wakes it up”, activating it into a frothy mixture. Be sure the water is just above room temperature – too hot, and it can kill the yeast; too cold and the yeast will stay “sleepy”, ie, it will be slow to activate. If you don’t seem to have any action going on in the mixture after 15-20 minutes, your yeast may be expired and you may need to start again with a new packet.

Forming the Dough: I chose a simple knotted twist for the shape of these pretzels, as I found it reminiscent of Nordic sweet buns and more special than a typical pretzel shape. Feel free to use your preferred method – you can even just roll the dough into balls if you want! But I won’t deny there is something special about a bread bun you can pull apart into little pieces.