Retro Favorites #3 Strawberry Pretzel Salad is probably my best loved childhood dessert. Yes it has an odd name, but then again, I didn’t name it. When I look back in the old cookbooks most people did, and still do, refer to it as “salad.” Actually, I was never sure what it was called and just called it “that strawberry pretzel thing I like.” But whatever the name, when I was a kid, it was always present at church pot luck suppers and picnics at Mrs. D’s house.
Mrs. D was my Mom’s close friend and coworkers at the local Catholic school. She seemed to be the only person, outside of family, that we ever spent much time with. I remember going over to her house several times over the summers to gather with a few other families (more of my parents friends) for back yard cookouts.
Mrs. D’s family was also Italian American so there was definitely plenty of food around, and beer, and bocce. The kids, of course, would be chasing each other with squirt guns or water balloons or sticks or whatever; while the men would be hanging around the grill and beer cooler, and the women would be sitting in the shade talking about the men; their latest fad diet, or the recipe for whatever they brought to the party. It was at those gatherings that I realized I enjoyed hanging around the women chatting about recipes and cooking techniques more than running around with the other kids. To this day, in most social situations, I will still gravitate toward those foodie conversation. I might not know much about football or politics, but I can definitely tell you how to make a wonderful pasta e fagioli!
The thing I love about Strawberry Pretzel Salad — other than it bringing back childhood memories — is that it has those classic combinations of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy all in one. And who doesn’t love a cool and refreshing strawberry dessert in the summer?
If you’ve never had this dessert I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it is. If you have had it, and you remember it fondly, then I hope you take time to make it again and share with your family or friends.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Prep time: 20 min.
Cook time: 10 min.
Total time: 2-3 hours with chilling times
Serves: 12-16 servings
2 cups Crushed Pretzels (about 8 ounces)
3 TBSP Sugar
3/4 cup Butter — melted
1 cup Sugar
2 (8 oz) packages Cream Cheese — softened
1 (8 oz) container Whipped Topping (like Cool Whip)
1 (6 oz) package Strawberry Gelatin
2 cups Boiling Water
1 (16 oz) package Frozen Strawberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Make Crust: Place pretzels in a zip top bag and crush with a rolling pin or other heavy object. In a bowl, combine the crushed pretzels, 3 TBSP sugar, and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake in center of preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Make Filling: In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and remaining sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. Spread evenly over pretzel crust making sure you get filling all the way to the sides of the baking dish. Refrigerate until chilled (at least 30 minutes).
4. Make Topping: Dissolve gelatin in boiling water in a large bowl. Mix in frozen strawberries and stir until thawed; Refrigerate until partially set (about 30 minutes). Carefully spoon strawberry topping evenly over cream cheese filling.
5. Refrigerate finished dessert for 1-2 hours or until firm. Cut into squares and serve with additional whipped topping if desired.
There you have it, Strawberry Pretzel Salad (dessert)! And I hope this either reminds you of how much you like this recipe — or it becomes a new favorite. Either way, I think you’ll enjoy the crunchy, creamy, salty, sweetness of it as much as I do.
Until next time remember, “The Sauce Makes the Difference!”