For Tasha's choice of strawberries, I made the Strawberry Pretzel Salad featured in this month's issue of Cook's Country (Aug./Sept. 2013).
We ate this during our annual summer viewing of one of our family's favorite movies, Jaws. Very appropriate, I think.
Everything tastes better with pretzels: beer, ice cream, chocolate, shark movies. Pretzel buns are great too. When I saw this recipe uses a ground pretzel crust, rather than your typical graham cracker, I had to try it. I've been thinking about designing a pretzel crumb crust for pies for awhile, but I'm more than happy to let Christopher Kimball and his crew take over.
Peter is my pickiest eater, especially when it comes to fruit. He will only eat apples and grapes. For real. He did enjoy a chocolate covered strawberry once, and he has succumbed to the wiles of lemon-butter sauces on food, but that's as adventurous as it gets.
After I had been boiling strawberry puree, Peter came in and said, "What is that amazing smell? It smells great in here." And it really did. It smelled like Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Kingdom on 'roids. But he still didn't eat it.
That white filling is cream cheese and whipped cream and sugar. There's a lot of sugar in this dish. Not that that's a bad thing...
Need a fancy dessert that feeds a crowd? Want to serve something red but don't do artificial food colorings? A future Mystery Ingredient happens to be pretzels or cream cheese and you wanna play along? You won't go wrong with Strawberry Pretzel Salad.
But please don't make the regular web recipes out there. You don't need Cool Whip and Jello to do this right.
Because I love you readers, but don't want to give you my login and password for my paid online subscription to Cook's Country, I'm a copying the recipe here which is probably illegal.
Do yourself a big favor and read the fine print about thawing your frozen strawberries the night before.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad (serves 10-12)
For a sturdier crust, use (thinner) pretzel sticks not (fatter) rods. Thaw the strawberries in the refrigerator the night before you begin the recipe. You’ll puree 2 pounds of the strawberries and slice the remaining 1 pound.
- 6 1/2ounces pretzel sticks
- 2 1/4cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 12tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 8ounces cream cheese
- 1cup heavy cream
- 3pounds (10 1/2 cups) frozen strawberries, thawed
- 1/4teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 1/2cup cold water
- 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Pulse pretzels and ¼ cup sugar in food processor until coarsely ground, about 15 pulses. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 10 pulses. Transfer pretzel mixture to prepared pan. Using bottom of measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside crust, letting it cool slightly, about 20 minutes.
- 2. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream cheese and ½ cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and, with mixer still running, slowly add cream in steady stream. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, scraping down bowl as needed, about 1 minute longer. Spread whipped cream cheese mixture evenly over cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
- 3. Meanwhile, process 2 pounds strawberries in now-empty food processor until pureed, about 30 seconds. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium saucepan, using underside of small ladle to push puree through strainer. Add remaining 1½ cups sugar and salt to strawberry puree in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles begin to appear around sides of pan and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.
- 4. Sprinkle gelatin over water in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk strawberry puree into gelatin. Slice remaining strawberries and stir into strawberry-gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until gelatin thickens slightly and starts to cling to sides of bowl, about 30 minutes. Carefully pour gelatin mixture evenly over whipped cream cheese layer. Refrigerate salad until gelatin is fully set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve.