Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strawberry Pretzel Bars

Strawberries.  I'm pretty sure they are the ultimate summer fruit for me.  They are so sweet and so versatile that they really can be used in just about anything.  

And since summer is beginning to slowly wind down for most of us I thought I would go ahead and try to get one more good taste of summer in before the end.  After all, Labor Day is only in a few more weeks for us Americans and this is a great picnic and cookout dessert!  And it tastes like summer.

So let's get started, shall we?

As you can see, there's not a whole heck of a lot to this particular dessert, but it's a lot of fun to put together.  

For example, my favorite part of the whole dessert (other than eating it) is right here at the beginning!  Go ahead and put your pretzels in a big plastic bag.

Now beat the living heck out of them.

I'm not kidding!  Whether you use a can or a rolling pin or your head, just beat the heck out of those pretzels!

Okay maybe don't use your head.

But beat those pretzels until you get 2 good cups of pretzel crumbs.

Then go ahead and mix in 1/4 cup of white sugar...

And 2/3 of a cup of melted butter.

Mix it all up until it's really well combined!  Then press it out on the bottom, since this is going to be the crust of your bars. 

Then go ahead and bake this by itself for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  That will help it to set fully.  Then set it aside and let it cool.

Now in a separate bowl go ahead and put in 1 and a half packages, or 12 ounces of softened cream cheese.

Add in a 1/4 cup of white sugar and your 2 tablespoons of milk...

And really mix it together until it's well combined.  

And try to resist sticking your fingers in there and licking them clean.  That's so rude and delicious.

Now throw in your cool whip with the mixed cream cheese, sugar and milk.

Then gently mix everything together until it's well combined.  Again, try to not lick your fingers clean.

No matter how delicious and tempting it may be.

You'll feel awful if you get caught.  Not that I know from experience or anything.

Now take your cooled crust and plop the mixture on top...

And spread it out completely.  Yes, this will look like frosting but that's okay!  You want to make sure to get this mixture in every corner as well.  Once you are done, pop it in the refrigerator. 

Now in a separate bowl, go ahead and throw in your strawberry jello powder...

And your 2 cups of boiling water.

Then stir for about 2 minutes until the powder is completely dissolved.  Just like making regular Jello. 

Only you're going to stick it in the fridge about 1 and a half hours instead of a full 2.  Why?  Well we have fruit to mix in!

Now while that is chilling go ahead and take the opportunity to clean and cut your strawberries.  I cut mine into 4ths but you may feel more comfortable cutting them down even more than that.  The smaller the strawberry the easier the bars will be to cut!

Once the hour and a half has passed go ahead and combine your strawberries and your jello together.

Then pour the jello and strawberry mixture over top of the crust and cream cheese that you've had in the fridge.  

You're going to need to let this set for about 3 hours before even thinking about cutting into them though, and overnight will actually be the best.  

But that's hard.  Oh so hard.  But trust me, it is worth it!

Enjoy your taste of summer!

Strawberry Pretzel Bars

2 cups finely crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
1 cup thawed cool whip
2 cups boiling water
1 pkg. (6 oz.) strawberry flavor gelatin
1-1/2 cups cold water
4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a 9x13 pan mix your pretzel crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of butter.  Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Cool completely.  

In a seperate bowl, whip the cream cheese, remaining sugar and milk until blended. Stir in cool whip gently; spread over crust. Refrigerate.  Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1-1/2 hours or until thickened.

Cut strawberries into small pieces and stir into gelatin; spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.

Serves 16.

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