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Grits and Gouda: Easy Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 9:23 AM CDT
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Ingredients:

2 cups small pretzel twists or sticks about 3 ounces (1 1/2 cups crushed)

2 tablespoons light brown sugar or granulated sugar

1/2 cup salted or unsalted butter melted (1 stick or 8 tablespoons)

1 3 ounce package strawberry flavored gelatin (I used Jell-O)

1 cup boiling water + 1/2 cup cold water (measured separately)

4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 of an 8 ounce package)

1 1/4 cups Cool Whip plus more for dolloping on top, if desired

1/4 cup granulated sugar or 1/3 cup powdered confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries about 3/4 of a 16-ounce container

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Combine crushed pretzels, brown sugar, and melted butter in a medium-size bowl. Press the mixture onto the bottom of an 8x8 pan or baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine boiling water (see Notes for microwave time) and strawberry gelatin, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Place in refrigerator until slightly thickened to the consistency of egg whites (about 20 minutes-which is perfect for the timing of the crust to cool down). (Be careful not to let it get too thick at this point.)

To avoid using an electric mixer, I get the cream cheese very soft by microwaving it. Unwrap the cream cheese and place on a plate. Microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds; flip it over and microwave again for 10 seconds. The cream cheese should be soft enough to stir with a whisk or spoon.

Whisk together softened cream cheese and granulated sugar. Whisk until sugar is almost dissolved. Gently fold in Cool Whip with a spatula until you don’t see any streaks of cream cheese.

When the crust is about room temperature, dollop the cream cheese filling onto the crust, then spread evenly to the edges of the pan. This step is important so the gelatin won’t seep down to the crust.

Add the sliced strawberries to the gelatin or arrange on top of cream cheese mixture. It should slightly thickened at this point but still pourable. Pour or spoon the strawberry mixture over the filling and spread it all the way to the edges of the pan.

Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or until the gelatin is firm. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cut into squares to serve. Dollop with additional Cool Whip, if desired.

Notes:

Pro Tip: To easily spread the filling on the crust, without breaking up the crust, dollop the filling in 5 or 6 spoonfuls, first. Then evenly spread it to the edges with a knife. This shortens the distance the filling has to be “dragged” across the crust. How to boil water in microwave: Pour 1 cup water into a microwave-safe measuring cup or small bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.

Pro Tip: Waiting for cream cheese to get to room temperature can take hours. Shortcut this step by removing it from the wrapper, place on a small plate and microwave on HIGH for 10 seconds. Flip it over and microwave again for another 10 seconds. Done. Room temperature cream cheese.

How to make this salad in a 9x9 or 13x9 inch pan: For a 9x9 pan, you can either make the recipe as is and it will be slightly thinner, or increase all the ingredients a little. Use these amounts: 1 2/3 cups crushed pretzels, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 9 tablespoons butter, 3 ounce package strawberry gelatin, 1 cup boiling water, 3/4 cup cold water, 6 ounces cream cheese, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip plus more for dolloping on top. To make Easy Strawberry Pretzel Salad in a 13x9 inch pan, simply double all the ingredients from the original amounts.

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