Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Squares

My church threw the best BBQs growing up. We were only a small congregation of about 75 people, but the food that would arrive was that of a 1000 people. Aside from all the usual hot dogs, burgers, potato & macaroni salads, the ladies of the church knew how to bake.

There was always an array of cakes, cookies, pies, and tarts. A staple dessert at the BBQ (and one of my most favorite summertime desserts to this day) is Strawberry Pretzel Squares. We also knew it as Strawberry Pretzel Salad.

When I was 11 years old, the only thing that stood between me and this gorgeous dessert was a scrawny boy named Keith. His mom made it and he KNEW how much I loved it. He was a year older than me and wouldn't let me near it until I kissed him. Boys were so icky until I was about 14, so on a scale of 1 to 10 on the Gross-o-meter, he was a 12. Of course, our Moms thought it was so cute. Gag.

I looked him up on facebook a few years ago. I love facebook just for that reason alone. I'm a total lurker. I don't necessarily want to befriend old acquaintances per se, I just like to see how kind Father Time is to people I grew up with.

Time served Keith very well. Although I don't know how many women Keith has held ransom to this dessert since, but to be fair, it is a dessert worthy of a kiss.

No matter how scrawny the boy is.


Recipe adapted from my Mom

2 cups crushed pretzels
¾ cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese
¾ cup sugar
1½ cups whipped topping, I used Cool Whip
2 packages strawberry gelatin, I used Jello Brand
1 pound fresh strawberries
(The original recipe actually calls for 2 packages of 10 ounce frozen strawberries. I LOVE fresh fruit and will use it if it's available. This step is delicious either way)

Note: This is a dessert that requires a few steps until completion. For best results, do not use shortcuts and allow for cooling and chilling times as indicated.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Using a blender, chop pretzels into very small pieces. 

In a bowl, combine pretzels, butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Press into a 9 x13-inch pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool. 

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust.

Refrigerate until well chilled or about 3 hours.

In a small bowl, prepare gelatin as instructed on box. Once prepared, place in fridge and chill until slightly thickened. (When I mean thickened, it will have a 'ripple' when jiggled.)

Pour gelatin over cream cheese mixture and add fresh strawberries on top, pushing down gently until submerged. I add the strawberries after so they are evenly distributed across the dish. If using frozen strawberries, add them TO the gelatin and then pour over cream cheese mixture. 

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.

Happy Baking!

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