Jan and I were discussing what to have with the challah I was making. Jan wanted me to make super-mini challah in the mini-muffin pan. Jan piped up with you could put jalapeños in it and they would be challahpeños! How far will this family go for a good pun? Apparently quite far.
This comes from a Lueck Family rule as I was growing up. I was the fourth of five children. My parents—in self defense and to maintain some level of quietude at the dinner table—insisted that no child could speak at the table, unless it involved some form word play. For young children, puns were the only way to get to get a chance to speak.
I saved a small bit of dough from the challah rolls to give it a try. While I had made 12 challahpeños, 4 mysteriously disappeared while I was getting my camera. Jan and Eilene deny all knowledge, it must have been the cat.
These challahpeños were so good that I decided to make them when Eilene’s friends came over for their Thursday night gathering. Eilene’s made one more suggestion to make these even better. She thought they needed some cheese to go with the chilies.
Note: These are perfect as an hors d’oeuvres or for a potluck. The recipe makes 48 one inch challahpeños.
2 cups AP flour, separate uses
1 Tbs. white sugar
1¼+ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
1¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 large eggs, separate uses
1½ Tbs. vegetable oil, separate uses
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup warm water
5 jalapeños pepper, minced finely
¼ lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 mini-muffin pans
1. In a large bread bowl, sift together 1½ cups of flour, the sugar, 1¼ teaspoon of salt and the yeast.
Tip: In this recipe I am not “proofing” my yeast. I use a yeast from a jar that I already know is active. If you use yeast from a packet, you run the risk that your yeast is old and dead. Be very careful to check the expiration date.
2. Separate the yolk from one of the eggs. Place the yolk and about half of the white in a small bowl. Put the remaining white in a cup and set it aside for later.
3. Add the remaining egg, oil and vanilla to the bowl with the egg yolk and whisk until well blended.
4. Make a “well” in the flour mixture and pour the egg mixture and water into the hole.
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until you have a smooth batter.
Tip: Stir in only one direction, until all of the lumps of dry flour are fully mixed in. If you stir in one direction and then the other you will break the gluten sheets that are forming as you stir.
6. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes.
7. Spread a quarter cup of the remaining flour onto a clean smooth work surface—I use a pastry marble.
8. Scrap the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured board.
9. Knead the dough for ten minutes. Add the remaining flour as you work to keep the dough from sticking to the board.
Tip: Depending on the size of your eggs, the temperature, and the humidity, you may need more or less the half cup of flour. You want your final dough to be fairly soft, but you do not want it to stick to the board as you are working it.
10. When you have finished kneading, form the dough into a tight ball.
11. Clean your bread bowl and rub about a teaspoon of oil around the insides. Place the dough top side down into the oil to coat it and then flip it over to coat the bottom with oil.
12. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set the bowl in a warm place to raise.
Tip: If it is a cold day, turn your oven on low for one minute and place the bowl in the over to raise. Be sure to turn the oven off before putting in the dough or you will half bake it. I speak from personal experience here.
13. When the dough has doubled in volume—1-2 hours depending on many factors—punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board.
14. Form the dough into a ball and use a board scrapper to divide the dough in half.
15. Form each half into another dough ball. Cut each of these in half to form four balls of dough.
16. Set two dough balls back in the bowl and cover them with the damp towel.
17. Working alternately with the other two balls, roll them into a thin 12 by 9 inch rectangle.
Tip: Roll the first ball into a 5 x 5 inch square. While the first dough is resting, roll out the second ball. Continue rolling and alternating until you reach your desired size and shape. Use a dusting of flour to keep the dough from sticking.
18. Spread the minced jalapeños over the dough, leaving one inch of the edge away from you clear
19. Scatter the grated cheese over the peppers.
20. Starting with the edge closest to you roll the dough over the the peppers.
Tip: Keep the roll tight, but do not let the peppers poke holes through the dough.
21. Before you make the last turn of the dough, dab/brush a bit of water over the one inch strip of clear dough.
Tip: You may need to dust the roll well with flour to soak up any excess water that escapes along the seam.
22. Poke in and pinch the ends of the rolls and let them rest for 5 minutes.
23. Gently roll and stretch the rolls until they are about 15 inches long.
24. Cut each roll into 12 pieces and set them, seam side down, in the cups of a mini-muffin pan that has been sprayed with Pam.
25. Take the cup with the egg white and add a pinch of salt and one tablespoon of water. Stir it well to break up the egg white.
26. Let the challahpeños rise for 15-20 minutes and then bake at 350º F for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.
27. Remove the challahpeños from the muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.
Tip: Rotate the pan half way through the baking time.