Strawberry Pretzel “Salad”

We first learned about this odd sounding recipe on Cook’s Country. I suppose someone might enjoy it as a first course however in our home this fits firmly in the dessert category. While a 24 hours recipe might seem daunting there is a lot of downtime between steps and a most of that time can be a long overnight rest in the refrigerator. I think active time is around a hour, spread across maybe 2 hours.

I’ll repeat this hint at least twice more, thaw the strawberries in the refrigerator the night before you want to make the recipe. Maybe you need 48 hours before you start. Trust me, the end product is worth the wait.

This is a fine make ahead recipe. You could make this up to 3 days in advance and the pretzel base will remain fairly crisp.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Servings: 8-10
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 7 hours minimum (24 hours would be better)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 1/2 oz. pretzel sticks
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 lbs. frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (see note)
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Directions:

  1. Take your strawberries out of the freezer, stick the unopened bag in a bowl and slip them into the refrigerator over an overnight thaw.
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Take the strawberries and cream cheese out of the fridge so they can come to room temperature.
  3. At any point forward you can slice up 1 pound of the strawberries and set them aside. You’ll need them in step 9.
  4. Melt the butter by your preferred method (see note) and set aside to cool while you complete the next step.
  5. Place the pretzels and 1/4 cup of sugar in your food processor and pulse 15-20 times until you have coarse pretzel crumbs. Pour in the slightly cooled butter and pulse another 8-10 times to incorporate it. Transfer pretzel mixture to the prepared pan and use the bottom of measuring cup to press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer crust to a cooling rack and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  6. Beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar with a stand mixer on medium for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream and, once incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high for 1 minute. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled pretzel crust, cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Next up we finally get to those thawed strawberries. Place 2 pounds of the strawberries, plus any juice that came out during thawing, into the bowl of the food processor. Process until pureed smoother, 30-45 seconds. Transfer the pureed strawberries into a fine strainer set over a medium saucepan. Use the bottom of a ladle to gently push the puree thorugh the strainer, leaving behind the seeds.
  8. Stir in the remaining sugar, and the salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbles begin to appear around the side of the pan, about 5 minutes. Note, the sugar should be completely dissolved. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool briefly.
  9. Add the water to a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften. Whisk the strawberry puree into the gelatin and add the sliced strawberries. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour until the gelatin thickens slightly; it should start to cling to the side of the bowl.
  10. Carefully pour the strawberry gelatin over the cream cheese layer. Recover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the “salad” is fully set-up. That’s at least 6 hours; a 20+ hour rest couldn’t hurt.

Notes:
The original recipe I worked from called for 4 1/2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin. In my experience that is what is found in 1 envelope of the name-brand unflavored gelatin that I see in most megamarts. You might want to check the first time you make this recipe.

Final Reminder – you’ll be much happier if you thaw the strawberries overnight prior to making this dish.

Advertisements

Rhubarb and Mixed Berry with Biscuits

This was originally going to be a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. I bought some rhubarb from our local food co-op last week so I was looking for a use for it. My mom returned a plastic container with some strawberries from her backyard. I figured I could find enough local strawberries to make the dish. Alas a big rain last night kept the local farmers from the fields to harvest their crop. So I turned to the freezer for a handy bag of mixed berries from Trader Joe’s.

I’ve basically followed the recipe for ‘Best Rhubarb Dessert from King Arthur Flour. The result was very tasty, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Here’s the recipe, with my changes and additional notations.

Rhubarb and Mixed Berry with Biscuits
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 sticks of rhubarb cut in 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 16 oz. bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mixed berries, thawed
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the rhubarb in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Add the thawed mixed berries and cut strawberries to a bowl. Add the sugar and corn starch. Stir to combine and let sit for 15 minutes or so. The juices from the berries will help to dissolve the sugar and the corn starch with help thicken the sauce. After the rest, pour the berry mixture over the rhubarb.
  3. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set it aside.
  4. Add the egg to the melted butter and mix to combine. Add the milk and vanilla; again mix to combine.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture. Stir to combine into a thick dough.
  6. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough over the fruit mixture.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. If the top has not browned sufficiently increase the heat to 400°F and cook for another 10 minutes. The fruit should bubble along the edges of the biscuits.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. No one likes a burnt tongue.

Notes:
I highly recommend serving this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.