I have a soft spot for sweet, high-calorie dishes that are named “salads”, so we can eat them as a side dish, pretending they aren’t desserts, while saving room for cakes and cookies later on. This one is spot on, and was one my Granny use to make very often. It’s a bit of a surprise – lots of these things sound like they wouldn’t taste very good together. But the final result is a perfect blend of sweet, fruity, salty, and buttery. Yum!
- 2 cups crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 c. + 4 T sugar
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 16-oz package Cool Whip
- 1 large package strawberry Jell-O
- 1 10-oz package frozen strawberries, thawed
A note on the pretzels: use the regular salted kind, unless you want to lower salt for health reasons – the salt definitely adds spunk to the dish. I use stick pretzels, and crush them inside a ziplock freezer bag with my meat hammer.
Mix together pretzels, melted 3/4 cup butter, and 4 T sugar in a small bowl. Pat into a 9×12 baking dish, and bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Afterward your bottom layer will look like the one above. I’d crush the pretzels a little more than shown here, because I had a few bare spots. You couldn’t tell when you ate it though 😉
Cream together softened cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in entire package of Cool Whip. Spread over cooled pretzel layer.
Prepare Jell-O with 2 cups boiling water, stirring until completely dissolved. Add strawberries. Chill in the refrigerator until the Jell-O is just starting to gel, then pour over cream cheese layer. (If you pour too soon, the liquid Jell-O seems past the edges and ruins the pretzel layer.)
To finish, cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for an hour. If you let the Saran Wrap touch the Jell-O, it will help prevent that yucky skin from developing – but it can also pull the Jell-O layer away from the cream cheese layer. It’s up to you.
And remember, it’s a salad so you can still have a “real” dessert!