Monday, April 2, 2018

Not Your Momma’s Pretzel Salad

Pretzel Salad has been around for a long time. My first taste of it came somewhere in the 70s, and I loved it then the same way that I love it now. I’ve eaten a lot of it over the years, served to me by a lot of people. What I have learned from this is that very few people know how to properly make it. One pretzel salad that I had is particularly memorable, because there were big chunks of pretzel in the crust! Let me ask you, when you have a graham cracker crust, are there big chunks of graham cracker in that crust? No! And there should not be big chunks of pretzel in a pretzel crust. Pretzels should be treated in the same way in which graham crackers are treated.

The filling should be wonderfully creamy. For this to happen, the cream cheese needs to be at room temperature, and the topping needs to be thawed. This is one of those cases where I do use Cool Whip and I like it, and make no apologies.

Now let’s talk about the Jell-O. It needs to be made by the quickset method, refrigerated for a short while, and poured on top so that it’s not going to sink down through the layers and into the pretzel base. I was once served a pretzel salad where the Jell-O had apparently been poured on right after being made. It seeped all of the way down completely covering the pretzel layer turning it into a gelatinous mass. What you want is a beautifully layered salad.

If you want your pretzel salad to be memorable in a positive way, rather than the negative ways that I’ve mentioned above, I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it. One thing that’s going to make it particularly easy, is to do two of the layers in the food processor. You will get a beautiful crust if you pulverize your pretzels in the food processor, and then just wipe it out with a paper towel, replace the work bowl onto the base, and mix the filling ingredients in there as well. It turns out perfectly every time. I find strawberries in pretzel salad to be a bit cloying and mundane, so I like to use cherries. I find more people like a cherry topping than they do one of strawberries. If you want to make an adults only version of pretzel salad, you might try using
bourbon or brandy-soaked cherries. Talk about delicious!

Here’s the way that I make a pretzel salad, and I’ve never tasted one better.
Not Your Momma’s Pretzel Salad

1 8-ounce bag mini pretzel twists
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 8-ounce pkg. cream cheese, room temperature, I mean it!
1 8-ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
2 4-ounce packages cherry Jell-O
1 12-ounce can pitted bing or morello cherries, 
or fresh, pitted, if in season

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pour the pretzels into the work bowl of your food processor. Pulse until they have been reduced to fine crumbs. Add sugar and melted butter, and pulse until combined. Turn out into a 9” x 13” pan pressing into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Wipe out the bowl of your food processor and add cream cheese and sugar. Pulse until combined. Add Cool Whip and process until smooth and creamy. Pour over the cooled crust.

Make Jell-O according to the “quickset“ directions. I use 2 cups of boiling water for two packages, and 1-3/4 cups of ice water. Place in refrigerator for 30 to 40 minutes, (checking at 30 minutes) until it has thickened, but is still pourable. Meanwhile, place the cherries in whatever design you see fit on top of the cream layer. When the Jell-O is ready (no more than 40 minutes), carefully pour over the cherries. Place pan in refrigerator and allow to chill completely, 3 to 4 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Keeps, refrigerated, for 3 days.

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Linda said...

Lol on your descriptions of how to do it the wrong way! I fell in love with pretzel salad the first time I tasted one but have only made it a few times since then. Did you serve this for Easter?

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

I had forgotten all about this wonderful salad. I love it and your recipe sounds great. It is on my to do list the next time I have guests over. Thanks so much.

Have a great week.


Rustown Mom said...

I've never had that, but it sounds intriguing!

Alycia Nichols said...

Surprisingly, of all the Jello salads my first mother-in-law made (and she made them for EVERY dinner, 7 days a wee!!!), she never made a pretzel salad. My Mom, of course, never made it because she didn’t really cook. The housekeeper who did the cooking acted like Jello was Satan himself, so needless to say she never made it, either. The combination of salty and sweet seems good to me, though! I’m with you on using cherries instead of strawberries. Makes sense. And as for Cool Whip...girl, my family practically mainlines that stuff!!! I’m more partial to freshly whipped cream, but there are times I just have to go to Cool Whip City along with the rest of the clan!!!😆

Lindy Feray said...

Red jelly is one of my favourites and this sounds yummy. I'm from Australia and we don't have cool whip. I'm wondering if it's the same as carnation milk? I'll do some research because I've seen it before in recipes and wondered what it was. Either way I know my grandchildren will love it!

thel day said...

Looks so pretty and delicious. I have never made anything with a pretzel crust. I must try it. Thanks for sharing.

Sandra Lee said...

My daughter loves pretzel salad and I'd surely earn brownie points if I made this for her. I hear ya about the Cool Whip; use whatever makes you happy. Thanks for all the helpful tips and for sharing with us at Celebrate Your Story and have a great weekend.