Thursday, February 23, 2012

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad

here's what you'll need:
2     1/2 cup pretzels (crushed fine)
3     tbsp brown sugar
1     cup butter
1     pkg (6oz - this is the larger one) instant strawberry jello
1     16 oz container fresh strawberries, sliced
1     8 oz pkg cream cheese
1     cup sugar
1/2   tsp vanilla
1     cool whip (8 oz container)

*please note: for best results you must chill between steps. this is an easy dessert to make but it does take time due to chilling. Allow 6-8 hours to complete the entire recipe.

first step, crushed pretzels!


you can use any kind of pretzels, but make sure they have some salt on them. the salty sweet combination is part of what makes this dessert so amazing. begin by preheating your oven to 350. then crush your pretzels. i used a ziploc bag and rolling pin.


combine pretzels, brown sugar, and melted butter and press into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.


bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  


remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. 
Once it is slightly cool i throw my crust in the refrigerator to allow it to get really cold. (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour)


in the meantime, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  use a hand mixer for this. you don't want lumps of cream cheese. 


blend in cool whip with a spatula. 


spread over cooled crust. 


make sure you spread this layer completely to the edges. you want to create a seal so your jello doesn't leak through. again, this is key to keeping your layers seperate. once this is done, put your pan back in the fridge to chill.


next, make your jello according to the package directions minus 1 cup of water.  this is a personal preference, but i find using a little less water allows the jello to firm up better.


put your bowl of jello in the fridge to allow it to partially cool before putting it on top of your cream cheese layer. 


while the jello partially cools, sliced your strawberries. then, place them on top of your chilled layer of cream cheese and cool whip.


you can be as fancy as you wanted with this step. 


i like to place my strawberries in alternating rows across the top. feel free to scatter them randomly or any other fun pattern you decide.

once your jello chilled to about the constancy of of jam or pudding (about an hour or two in the fridge) you're ready!


spoon and/or pour your jello over cream cheese layer. 


return the pan back to the fridge. cool until your jello is completely set (about an hour).

and that's it! you're done! as you can see, other than the cooling time, this dessert is really effortless to put together. you could even try it with different berries or fruits!


and now it's time for the best part ... eating! 


this dessert really combines the best of everything. you've got the salty and sweet thing going on with the crust and jello. then you have the rich and creamy layer. and there's even fresh fruit so you can feel a little better about eating dessert. this totally counts as one serving of fruit and vegetables, right?


i hope the pictures and tips for creating this dessert were helpful!

have a great week everyone!

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