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Monday, October 22, 2012

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Bars

Hi there! I'm back again with a blast from the past-

I'm not sure where they're from geographically or anything like that (more likely a holdover from the jello-crazy years of the past), but probably about half of you had these as a kid. I always had them at family potlucks, and my Aunt Karla from outside of New Orleans always made them. Since I was a kid, I've only had these maybe once, maybe not at all- but always the delicious memory stuck with me, so I dug up some old recipes, decided on my own ratios, and whipped these up. The ingredients list is full of guilty pleasures, so this is a treat to eat without thinking about all the stuff that goes in it- just enjoy- and I know you will.

Strawberry Jello Cream Cheese Cool Whip Pretzel Bars, you could call them, all in all. But let me show you how it all comes together:

Here's your arsenal- simple simple simple.

Here's the crust- I whipped it up in the food processor, though you could mash with a rolling pin or whatever you like- I found it brings the crust together really nicely though (luckily I'm at home and get to use my mom's! I don't have one!). That whole bag above would do for a 9x13'' pan.

Press your crust into the bottom of a greased 9x13'' pan (I made a 1/2 batch, so this one's 8x8''), and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Set out your cream cheese earlier to soften, then cream it with the cup of sugar.

And then fold in your whipped topping to finish this layer.

Then spread the mixture over the pretzel crust and refrigerate about an hour, or until set.

When the cream cheese layer has set, make your jello with half the amount of water called for, then stir in the frozen berries until they are thawed.

Pour your strawberry-jello layer over the top, and spread out the strawberries, and then, again, refrigerate until set!

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad Bars
-2 cups crushed pretzels (I used a food processor, but you can take a rolling pin to them or whatever you like)
-4 tablespoons white sugar
-3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, melted
-1 cup white sugar
-2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (or neufch√Ętel, that's what I used- just don't use fat free!)
-1 (8 oz.) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
-1 (6 oz.) package strawberry jello
-2 cups boiling water
-16 oz. frozen strawberries
Combine pretzels, 4T sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of a greased 9x13'' pan. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Cream the cream cheese and 1C sugar, then fold in the cool whip. Spread over the pretzel crust. Try to make sure this layer touches the sides of the pan and cover the crust completely to keep the jello from seeping through. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes to set.
Combine your 6 oz. Jello mix with the boiling water, then stir in the frozen strawberries until they are no longer frozen. Pour mixture over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set. Enjoy!!

Here's a finished side-view, and you can see the layers really well- as you can see, mine aren't perfect, some of the jello seeped down one corner- try to make your cream cheese layer go all the way to the sides of the pan so the crust doesn't get soggy from the jello.

Try these out, even if you don't like jello very much- I don't, but this combo will knock your socks off! And it's very cheap to make, to boot. And when it's finally all set up and refrigerated, eat it in bars with a fork or plop a bunch in a bowl and settle down with a spoon!

Savor it!
love, rue

p.s. I just had an amazing thought about this recipe!!! Specifically my thought was that you could pour chocolate sauce over individual servings and it would be to die for! But more generally, you could customize this however you like- use different berries, use fresh berries, use a different flavor of jello, or top with anything from nuts to sprinkles to chips. Make it your own- this is only the beginning!

p.p.s. I was just eating some of this while watching some Flying Circus, and I had another great idea from this recipe- I thought about how not too much of it is jello, and most of it is pretzely saltiness and the cream cheesy layer- that gave me the thought of making a pretzel-crust cheesecake- does that not sound divine? I might have to give it a try!

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