For many people, an ideal dessert is a balanced combination of sweet, creamy and salty, which may explain the popularity of a casserole dish known as a strawberry pretzel dessert or strawberry pretzel salad. A traditional strawberry pretzel dessert consists of a layer of baked crushed pretzels and sugar, a layer of sweetened cream cheese and whipped topping, and finally a layer of strawberry-flavored gelatin and frozen sliced strawberries.
Strawberry pretzel dessert is often served as either a side dish or dessert at potluck dinners and picnics, and can also be found occasionally on the dessert menus of local restaurants. It can be made the day before an event and refrigerated overnight, although many cooks strive to keep the pretzel layer as crisp as possible before serving. Any unnecessary condensation can cause the pretzels to become soggy.
To make a traditional strawberry pretzel dessert, you will need a heatable casserole dish no larger than 9 by 13 inches. This casserole dish can be lightly sprayed with a releasing agent or cooking spray. Crush two cups of salted pretzels and combine with 3/4 cup of melted butter and approximately 3 tablespoons of white sugar. This mixture should be pressed firmly into the bottom of the casserole dish to form a solid layer.
The casserole dish should be placed in a 400 degree Fahrenheit or 200 degree Celsius oven for 8-10 minutes or until the crust appears set. The casserole dish should then be set on a counter top or cooling rack and allowed to cool while the other ingredients are prepped.
The second layer of a strawberry pretzel dessert consists of equal parts whipped topping and cream cheese sweetened with a cup of sugar. The cream cheese and sugar should be combined first in a large mixing bowl, followed by a folding of the whipped topping. This mixture can be spread over the cooled pretzel crust in the casserole dish. Some experienced cooks suggest covering the entire layer of pretzel crust from end to end with the cream cheese/whipped topping mixture in order to keep the strawberry gelatin layer from seeping into the crust and creating sogginess.
The final layer of a strawberry pretzel dessert is a mixture of frozen sliced strawberries and strawberry-flavored gelatin. Two packages of gelatin mix should be enough to combine with two standard bags of frozen strawberries. Mix the gelatin with boiling water as directed and then add the frozen strawberries. When the gelatin and fruit mixture have set to approximately the consistency of egg whites, pour it carefully over the cream cheese layer and spread until even. The gelatin should be allowed to fully set under refrigeration.
Strawberry pretzel dessert is traditionally sliced into squares and served much like cake directly from the pan. The combination of the salty pretzel layer, the creamy whipped topping and the sweet layer of strawberries congealed in gelatin is what makes this dessert or side dish very popular, especially in the Deep South.