Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I know what your thinking. This doesn't look like a salad. In my opinion, this dessert resembles strawberry shortcake. The difference is, there is no spongy cake part but a layer of salty crushed pretzels. Imagine sweet tasty strawberries on top of a smooth, whipped cream thickened with cream cheese, and undercoated with a crunchy, salty pretzel crust. It's wonderful to find that the sweet and soft aspects of this dish are counteracted by the salty and crisp pretzel coating which is it's exact polar opposite. I'm not usually a dessert guy, but something about this captivates me as I compare the taste and textures while it comes together in a harmony of perfect flavor. This will never be safe in my house. It will be hunted, savored and reborn often. How can anyone resist the evolution of dessert? Never have pretzels been used as a component of a recipe and had such a profound effect. This is Mach 5 of the flavor spectrum baby. Add it to the recipe book and blow the relatives away removing any desire to further insult you during the visit!

Here is how it's done:

Adapted from Paula Deen (via “Paula’s Home Cooking,” Food Network)
· 2 cups crushed pretzels (You want small pieces, but don’t pulverize them in a food processor.)
· 3/4 cup melted butter
· 3 tablespoons sugar
· 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
· 3/4 cup sugar
· 1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping
· 2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin dessert mix
· 2 cups boiling water
· 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries
· 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
· Whipped topping or whipped cream, to garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. For the Crust: Grab a medium bowl, add the pretzels, butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar, and mix them together. Press this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. For the Filling: In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until well chilled.
4. For the Topping: In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries and pineapple, and pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.
5. Serve slices with a dollop of whipped topping.

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