Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

{insert pretty food photo here}

I promise one of these days I'll actually learn to take photos of my food. Right now, my camera is hanging out in a box somewhere. Haven't dug it out yet. I'd really like to have fabulous photos and tutorials a la two of my favorite blogs The Pioneer Woman Cooks and The Crepes of Wrath, but for now, I guess this'll have to do.

Last night, I made Strawberry Pretzel Salad to take to my small group. We have dinner together every week, which makes it a good testing ground for recipes. Samantha made a fantastic Santa Fe soup, and at the request of my friend Jana I made her favorite, Strawberry Pretzel Salad.

I really can't think of enough good things to say about SPS. First off, its called a salad, when really, it's a dessert.... it almost tricks you into thinking it just might be healthy. It's really easy to make, its light, its refreshing, and everyone loves it. It's creamy, sweet, tart, and salty all rolled into one. And the longer it sits, the more delicious it gets. In fact, I'd recommend making it the night before you are going to serve it. Or at least the morning of. I really wish I'd done that yesterday instead of making it right before taking it to small group.

This probably won't be the first post you see about strawberry pretzel salad in my blog. That's because I am trying to perfect this recipe to duplicate my favorite SPS from a local restaurant here, Main Street Cafe. And last night's came close, but it wasn't quite there yet. So I gotta keep tweaking and testing..... not that I'm complaining.

Here's the recipe I used, from

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

2 c. crushed pretzel sticks
3/4 c. melted butter
3 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry banana Jello
2 c. boiling water
2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen strawberries, partially thawed

Mix first three ingredients and press in bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees (metal pan) or 325 degrees (glass pan) 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Beat 1 cup sugar and cream cheese. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzels. Mix Jello and water until dissolved. Add strawberries. Stir into Jello, then set aside for 10 minutes. Pour over cheese mixture. Chill.

My notes:

First off, don't know why this recipe calls for strawberry banana Jello, but I just used regular strawberry. Never heard of using strawberry banana, and I don't think I'd want to. But if the idea blows your skirt up, by all means, go for it.

First off, I noticed that I didn't have enough pretzel mixture to cover the bottom of my pan. I don't like to completely pulvarize my pretzels, I leave them pretty chunky, since grinding them into a fine powder makes for a soggy crust and also the pretzel crust is (for some) the most important element of a strawberry pretzel salad. I wanna know they're pretzels. I'd defintely recommend doubling the pretzel mixture ingredients. And maybe adding even more butter after that. My pretzels just didn't wanna stay together; and I want to end up with uniform "slices" of my salad, just like Main Street Cafe's.

The cream cheese filling turned out good, but I added 1 capful (not sure what the exact amount is) of vanilla extract and beat the tar out of the cream cheese and sugar until it was fully combined, light and fluffy. Don't be afraid to beat it for a good 5 minutes, or until it looks good to you. Make sure you fold the Cool Whip in carefully as it can "break" easily. I don't think I need to double this mixture. I think adding 4oz more of cream cheese and maybe a bit more sugar would help it be a little bit thicker, though, and more rich.

The strawberry Jello layer was a small fiasco. The recipe says to let it sit for 10 minutes in the bowl after the addition of the partially thawed strawberries. Well, maybe my strawberries were too cold because it completely gelled in the bowl when I walked away for 10 minutes, resulting in me having to just spoon it atop the cream cheese mixture. Not so pretty, and not the affect I was going for. Also, it seemed to me there was not enough Jello and too many strawberries; I'd recommend using 1 bag of strawberries (either 10oz or 16oz) and maybe 2 boxes of Jello and 4 cups of boiling water.

All in all, this attempt still tasted pretty good. It's hard to mess up! It's a perfect treat for a pot luck, family gathering, or just an anytime dessert. You could probably lighten it up a little by using sugar free Jello, neufchatel cheese in place of cream cheese, Splenda in place of sugar, and fat free or sugar free Cool Whip. Not sure what you'd do about all those pretzels and butter though......


priscilla said...

i LOVE this stuff and it sounds really good right now. great you mind if i add you to my blogroll?

Sydney said...

This sounds amazing and my boyfriend would love it! I'll have to make it sometime soon.