Two dessert recipes in a row?
Those of you who have tasted a recipe of this kind before are probably salivating right now. Those of you that haven’t are probably thinking I’m crazy.
I know. The ingredients list is rather bizarre. Pretzels…cream cheese…Jell-O? Do those things go together? Is that combination legal?
Yes, yes, and yes. I was once a skeptic myself, especially being the kind of person that generally avoids any and all recipes containing Jell-O with the exception of meals intended for children, but I’m telling you: Jell-O + pretzels = delicious!
It’s like a creamy, crispy, salty, sweet, sensory overload in your mouth. It sounds questionable, but somehow it just works! I am a pretzel/Jell-O convert, and I think that maybe, just maybe, you’ll become one, too.
For some reason strawberries and pretzels always seem to make an appearance on my Independence Day menu. Strawberries because they’re red and patriotic, and the pretzels? I’m not sure about those. They just seem to join the party whether I invite them or not. Pretzel Sparklers have always been a Fourth of July favorite, and they inspired the Pretzel Sparkler Cupcakes that I went crazy over last year.
Given my history with pretzels and the pretty red color, this dish is perfect for the Fourth, and it’s a good recipe to bring out for a special holiday when you don’t mind spending time on the few extra steps it requires. Since each layer needs to be cooled or chilled (not a quick process), it’s important to plan ahead, but most of this dessert’s time is spent sitting in the fridge while you go about your business. No need to be intimidated!
It’s so simple, in fact, that some call this a “salad,” a fact I have no reason to dispute. :) That means it’s healthy, right? Salad or dessert, it’s up to you!
Just give it a chance and see what you think. Is it the most disgusting thing you’ve ever shocked your taste buds with? (Answer: Probably not.) Or is it a strangely perfect mix of texture and flavor? You tell me. Clearly I reside in the second camp, and I’m as surprised as anyone.
Then again, there are stranger foods in the world. Tell me: what’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever eaten?
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
- 2 cups chopped pretzels
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 9 oz. Cool Whip
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 6 oz. (1 large box or 2 small boxes) strawberry Jell-O
- 2 1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 10-oz. package frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the crust, combine sugar, butter and pretzels in a bowl. Mix well and press into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and cool completely.
- To make the filling, combine powdered sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Mix in whipped topping and marshmallows until well-blended.
- Evenly spread filling mixture over cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate.
- To make the Jell-O layer, place gelatin in a bowl and add boiling water. Stir until gelatin has dissolved completely; add thawed strawberries and mix well. Refrigerate until Jell-O starts to thicken, about an hour or two.
- Remove both containers from the refrigerator. Pour Jell-O mixture over cream cheese layer. Cover and refrigerate again until dessert is firm.
- Slice into 12 squares. Keep refrigerated for up to one week.
You can use any cream cheese and Cool Whip products you'd like in this recipe. I've used everything from the full-fat versions to the lightest ones, and all of them work well. The higher fat your cream cheese has, however, the more it will whip up, so you will get the thickest cream cheese layer if you choose regular cream cheese.
To boil the water, I always take the easy route and stick it in the microwave until it starts to bubble.
If I'm out of mini marshmallows, I usually have jumbo ones on hand for s'mores, so I just cut them into 6-10 pieces each and nobody's the wiser!