As long as I can remember I have been in love with Strawberry Pretzel Dessert. It’s an amazing blend of salty and sweet, slightly crunchy and creamy, and the flavors are amazing. My daughter has an allergy to Red Dye 40, so much to my disappointment, this has been a recipe I haven’t been able to create for my children due to the addition of Jell-o, which we love and it’s something she misses greatly. I’ve been wanting to create this for my kids and I was at a loss of how to go about it, until this Spring. I had a brilliant idea!
My kiddos were overly excited about Spring arriving. In Nebraska the weather is wonky, and we go from below zero temps to the 60s and 70s overnight, sometimes in an hour or so. Mother Nature does some interesting work around here. On this particular welcoming of spring celebration we jumped into at the end of March the kids were running around the back yard on the still dormant grass, barefoot in shorts and tank tops taking in the fresh air and sun. I realized it’s time for some lemonade. Then the lightbulb turned on. I give credit to the inspiration of spring for this one. Why couldn’t I make the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert without Jell-o this time? I could just create a strawberry glaze for the topping instead!
Yes, yes and more yes! It was on like Donkey Kong, so the saying goes. This was happening, and I was beside myself. I started digging through the pantry and fridge to see what I had and what I needed, then I called the kids in. We were heading to Walmart for lemonade and Strawberry Pretzel Dessert supplies. They had no idea why this was such a big deal to me, but they’d find out soon enough.
Country Time Lemonade has a new lemonade product, and since lemonade was on my list I decided to try it out. It comes in three flavors, so I picked up all of them. When I get in a motivated mood like this, I’m excited to try everything new. ALL THE NEW THINGS! We grabbed the rest of the list then immediately went home to create. My kids still did not understand this extreme focus I had. It’s strange for them to see because I have shiny lights syndrome and I get distracted easily. I was on complete focus for this. They couldn’t shake me.
Ingredients were gathered. This looks delicious already!
For the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert, I needed strawberries and crushed pretzels (of course), melted butter, Philadelphia cream cheese, sugar, heavy whipping cream (or Cool Whip, your choice), vanilla, powdered sugar, and cornstarch. I’ll give you exact measurements for the recipe at the bottom of this post.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix the crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and press down to form a crust. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the dish, cool for 10 to 15 min, then place in the refrigerator or freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to cool completely.
While you’re on the down time of the pretzel crust, you can start getting the rest of the layers prepped. First is the filling. In a stand mixer combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, mix on high until you have a nice thick whipped cream. You can omit this step and use Cool Whip if you’d like. When this is finished, place it in a separate bowl.
Next, combine softened cream cheese and sugar in the mixer bowl. You don’t need to rinse it out from the whipped cream. It’s okay if it mixes, just make sure you switch to the paddle attachment instead of the whisk. Combine these for about a minute at a low to medium speed. Add this to the same bowl with the whipped cream and gently fold them together until combined.
Finally slice strawberries in half and place over the top of the cream cheese layer. You’ll need enough strawberries to cover the top, so I like to do this step after the cream cheese layer has been completed, this way I have a better idea of how many strawberries I’ll need.
Now for my own addition. Normally you’d spoon prepared Jell-o (before the setting step in the fridge) over the strawberries on top of the cream cheese. If that’s what you want to do to save time, go for it! It has amazing flavor that way and it’s the traditional way to create this recipe. This time, however, I’m creating a glaze to go over the top instead. I’ll admit my glaze needs a little work since this was the first time I created this part of the recipe, but it still tasted good, so I’m happy with that!
For the glaze, combine a cup of water with a cup of chopped/crushed strawberries and simmer for a couple of minutes. I used my potato masher to squeeze out additional strawberry flavor.
Strain the strawberries and place the liquid back in the pot. I used a cheese cloth so I could give it a little extra squeeze without getting any of the strawberry pulp in it. Next add in sugar and cornstarch and heat until thickened. Make sure you pre mix your cornstarch in a little of the liquid before adding it to the pot to prevent lumps in your glaze.
Spoon the finished glaze over the strawberry layer of the dessert and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Time for the lemonade! It’s so easy with the new Country Time Lemonade Starters I picked up. I’m actually thinking next time I make this I might experiment with adding in one of the lemonade starters to the glaze when I make it. That would be a fun, flavorful twist!
I had no idea how easy it would be. I mean, just add water. That’s it! Each flavor has a little measure on the side if you want to use that, or it’s just 3/4 cup mix added to 2 quarts of water to make a pitcher. Each container makes 6 quarts, or 3 pitchers. You can also measure it out for individual glasses if you don’t want to make an entire pitcher. I love this stuff! Lemonade to order!
With the lemonade made and the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert chilled, the girls finally had the chance to see what my fuss was all about. Let’s just say they understand it now and they can’t wait to try this dessert again. It’s the perfect partner to the perfect glass of Country Time Lemonade, and together they are the perfect start to Spring. Lemonade and Strawberries always go together in the most excellent way.
Oh, and in case you want to check out the layers in the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert, just to inspire you a little more, here it is. You check this out, I’m going to go pour myself a glass of lemonade over ice while I sit back and watch the girls play in this awesome Nebraska Spring sunshine.
- 2 cups crushed pretzels
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 8oz package Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Or, omit the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar and substitute 1 thawed 8oz container of Cool Whip
- halved fresh strawberries
- 1 cup crushed strawberries
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- Combine pretzels, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for approximately 15 min, then place in refrigerator or freezer to cool/chill for approximately 15 minutes.
- For the filling, in a stand mixer combine the cream cheese and sugar. Mix until it is well combined. Approximately 2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Combine whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment on high speed until it is thick and fluffy. It should form stiff peaks. Omit this step if you’re using the Cool Whip.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well incorporated. Spread evenly onto pretzel layer.
- Place halved strawberries on top of the cream cheese layer of the dessert.
- Simmer crushed strawberries and water on medium high heat for approximately 2 minutes. Strain strawberries and discard the pulp. Return liquid to pot with sugar and cornstarch. Heat until it thickens and bubbles.
- Allow glaze to cool, then spoon over the strawberry layer of the dessert.
What is your favorite recipe to enjoy with a tall glass of iced lemonade? I shared mine, share yours in the comments below!