This recipe appears in:American Classics: Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Note: This recipe is written to be made with a traditional gelatin such as Jell-O. The frozen strawberries help to set the gelatin. If you choose to substitute a vegetarian gelatin, be aware that it will be a bit more challenging to assemble. I prepared a test batch using Natural Desserts Strawberry Jel, and the package cautioned that anything added to the gelatin must be at least room temperature. You can use completely thawed strawberries, or better yet, fresh strawberries. With the traditional Jell-O, you chill it slightly so it's semi-set before layering it on top of the cream cheese. The vegetarian gelatin is rapid-setting so it sets while warm. For me, this resulted in bit of a hot and cool mess, with some of the cream cheese melting and floating into the gelatin layer, leaving it foamy and cloudy. If you're committed to the vegetarian gelatin, you may want to throw together some extra whipped cream and slather it on top of the finished product for a prettier presentation.
- 2 cups finely crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 6 ounces strawberry gelatin dessert mix
- 2 cups boiling water
- 20 ounces of frozen strawberries
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and brown sugar until well combined. Then press mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust is set and slightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
Using a stand or handheld electric mixer whip together cream cheese, vanilla and 2/3 cup sugar until light and creamy Set mixture aside in a medium bowl.
Using a stand or handheld electric mixer whip together 2 tablespoons of sugar and heavy whipping cream until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and spread on cooled crust. Refrigerate until chilled completely, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl pour boiling water over gelatin, stirring continuously until fully dissolved. Allow mixture to cool slightly about 10 minutes, then stir in frozen strawberries. Let mixture cool further until it begins to gel. When it reaches the "soft set" stage where the gelatin is beginning to thicken, spread over chilled cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for two hours or until set. Serve chilled.