I was looking around at the dishes we have posted on the blog, and I could not believe this dish had not made it up yet. This is by far the most universally popular and the recipe we have probably made the most over the years. Part of its popularity might be because it is probably Derek's favorite salad/dessert (amazingly, it can serve as both), but at nearly every family gathering we attend, they ask us to bring some flavor of this recipe.
We first tried the recipe back in high school when we were over at Derek's house for dinner one night. His stepfather, Don, made us a great meal and from then on, we were hooked. It is fairly simple to make, but there are a couple very important steps in the recipe. First, it is essential to make a well-packed, solid crust. It does not change the taste, but a good crust makes this dish about perfect. In addition, we try to make it as healthy as possible by using sugar-free jello, frozen fruit with little/no added sugar, and as low fat cream cheese as possible. Stating this, the marshmallow layer does not set-up as well using fat-free cream cheese, so we use 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese instead. Finally, the cooling process for the jello layer is important too. If you pour the jello layer on too soon, it can seep through both the marshmallow and pretzel layers and ruin the entire dish. We place the jello in the refrigerator and allow it to begin to congel, then we stir it up, allow it to congel, stir it up, and then pour on top of the marshmallow layer.
The salad probably takes about an hour to make altogether, but only about 1/3 of that time is active. You can swap in different combinations of frozen fruit and jello for a change in taste. Other favorites we have tried include frozen blueberries/mixed berry jello and frozen raspberries/raspberry jello. So the next time you are heading to a gathering of any sort, try this salad. Odds are, you will not be bringing any leftovers home!
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Recipe from Don Kost
2 cups pretzels, finely crushed
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup melted margarine
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces cool whip
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 packages sugar-free strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
10 ounces frozen strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the first 3 ingredients and pat into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool completely.
Combine cream cheese, cool whip, powdered sugar, and marshmallows. Spread on cooled pretzel crust and place in refrigerator.
Mix jello ingredients and place in freezer until it begins to congel. Pour over cream cheese layer and place in refrigerator until ready to serve. May top with leftover pretzel crumbs.