Except, it’s not actually a cake.
In 1963 Jello published a cookbook called, The Joys of Jello. In it are all the whack-a-doodle recipes that you would expect for a gelatin cookbook from that dark period of our culinary history.
There’s the Apple Tuna Mold: A molded salad with apples, tuna, and celery set into lime gelatin. Another winner is Vegetables in Sour Cream: veggies molded into lemon Jell-o with bullion, sour cream, and vinegar. And, lest we forget, this nightmare: Barbecue Salad: A regular tossed salad, but with barbecue-flavored Jell-o cubes on top.
It’s no wonder that when children that were raised on this techno-colored dreck got older they did so many drugs. After a supper of cottage cheese salmon mold we’d all probably want to chemically erase any memory of that meal.
Also in that cookbook was a little something called Strawberry-Pretzel salad. This recipe had as much to do with salad as a sponge cake has to do with that thing you use to wash dishes.
This is a light version of a cheesecake. And for something so simple, it takes the concept of balance to high art.
The pretzel crust is crunchy and sweet/salty. The next layer is creamy, fluffy, and sweet. Finally, the jello layer is cool, sweet, with the lightly sour pop of strawberries.
For someone who’s not an over-the-top sweet lover, it’s the perfect dessert. But it’s so good that even someone with a sweet tooth the size of the rock of Gibraltar loves it (ahem, yeah, that would be me).
Thanks for your time.
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(for some reason, we’ve always called it strawberry pizza)
Heaping 2 cups of crushed pretzels
¾ cup melted butter (1 ½ sticks)
3 tbsp sugar
Bake at 400°.
Mix butter and sugar, then mix in pretzels. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt on top before baking. Press into a 9×13-inch glass dish with high sides, or two smaller casserole dishes with higher sides—you need enough room to cover all three layers and the strawberries without smooshing it. Alternatively you could cook them in individual ramekins, jam jars, or muffin tins. I think you could get about 8-10 minis from this recipe.
Bake for 8 minutes and let cool completely.
(Sometimes I make a larger amount for this part; this is my favorite layer.)
2-8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1-8 oz tub of Cool Whip, thawed
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
To make a thicker layer: use 1 1/2 cup sugar, 3 blocks cream cheese, and 12 or 16 oz tub of cool whip, thawed
Mix together softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth (an immersion blender is especially helpful in getting the cream cheese smooth.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Spread evenly on top of cooled crust, making sure the mixture has no gaps around the side. The Jello will sneak through those gaps and leak onto the pretzels, making them soggy. Place and fridge and let chill and set up (at least 2 hours).
1 large box strawberry gelatin
1-16 oz package frozen strawberries
2 cups boiling water
Whisk gelatin into boiling water until completely dissolved. Add frozen strawberries to the hot jello.
When the strawberries are thawed remove them from the jello with tongs, and place evenly onto the cream cheese layer and gently press them into place.