Thursday, January 28, 2010

Creamy Triple Berry Pretzel Squares

Pretzels. I'm not talking about the soft, buttery pretzels you get at the mall. I'm talking about the bagged snacks you buy for game day. Why is it that when I have pretzels out along with other chips and dips, they're the ones that never seems to get eaten?! I guess that's just been my experience so I rarely buy pretzel sticks. I did buy a few bags last month when I had planned on making chocolate dipped pretzel sticks. I made some for girlfriends but didn't get around to doing as many as I wanted to for others. So with 2 bags of pretzel sticks staring at me, I needed to find a way to use them.

After looking for ideas in my cookbooks, magazines and online recipe sites, it was Facebook that inspired me. Recently, there was an open reunion of all alumni of my high school. I didn't attend since it we weren't able to make it up to the suburbs for the weekend but I did spend time thinking about high school friends and memories.

A close friend in high school always raved about some dessert she had that sounded pretty odd. It consisted of crushed pretzels, cream cheese and jello. Huh?! Even weirder was that this dessert was called, "Strawberry Pretzel Salad"... and it wasn't even a salad like you might expect. I finally had a chance to try it and surprisingly, it was good!

It's a layered dessert where the pretzels formed the crust. The middle layer was a creamy mixture of cream cheese and whipped cream. Finally the top was a fruity gelatin layer. The saltiness of the pretzels worked with the sweetness of the whipped cream and gelatin. Even the combination of textures made the dish intriguing. Regardless, it's a great dessert, especially if you have leftover pretzels to use up. As a spin on the traditional strawberry pretzel salad, I used raspberry gelatin and frozen mixed berries. I'm sure you could substitute the gelatin for your preferred flavor and use complimenting frozen or fresh fruit. I think I'm going to have to buy pretzels more often - not necessarily for snacking but just to make this dessert. My husband couldn't get enough of this!

Creamy Triple Berry Pretzel Squares
recipe adapted from

Pretzel Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted

Cream Filling:
1 cup white sugar
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Triple Berry Topping:
1 (6 ounce) package raspberry flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed berries (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine all the ingredients for the pretzel crust and press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or lightly toasted then set aside to cool completely.
To speed the cooling time, place in the refrigerator.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the cream filling. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping then spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes to an hour.

After the cream filling has set, prepare the berry topping. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water until dissolved. Add in the frozen mixed berries and stir until thawed. Carefully pour the berry topping over cream cheese mixture in pan. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

To serve, cut into squares and dig in!