#31: My Favorite Recipe I’ve Never Made

#31: My Favorite Recipe I’ve Never Made

I enjoyed this layered Jello salad at a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, so much so that I would not leave her house until she had written the recipe out for me. Because I’m a delightful guest, and not at all irritating to have in your home on a major holiday.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m preparing to make this salad for Christmas. I had been utterly obsessed with the memory of its near perfect mix of salty, crunchy, creamy, and sweet. Bonus – its festive color would look amazing on my fancy white plates, which look incredible on my heathery-red tablecloth, which picks up on similar shades of red in my window treatments and wall art. Because I’m a delightful homemaker, and not at all obsessive at matching decorative elements in my dining room.

So, I proceeded to put together the salad, carefully following the instructions, OR SO I THOUGHT. The results were, let’s say, less than ideal. It was the most elemental of failures – the Jello failed to jell, making the pretzel crust soggy. After one mushy bite, I scraped the rest straight into the trash can.

A month or so later, I was determined to try again. I double-measured each and every ingredient. I ticked off steps with the same care and attention a pilot shows a checklist for takeoff. I even wore a Cosby sweater for good luck. But again, Failure to Jell! And again, the most perfectly colored dessert, not on a white plate on a heathery-red tablecloth, but in my trash can.

I have not had the wherewithal to try this again, until recently, when my Mom and I were discussing what to have for Christmas dinner. She said, “I think we should try that pretzel thing.” I dusted off the recipe and tried to figure out where things had gone awry. The ingredients had been fresh, the cookware clean, the humidity low, and the sweater loud. Where had I gone wrong?

After the requisite brain-wracking, I did what every knowledge seeker does, eventually. I Googled. I compared my friend’s written recipe with similar ones at various recipe sites. And discovered (cue the trumpets) TWO MISSING STEPS!

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favorite recipe that I have never successfully made! For your convenience, I have highlighted 2 steps that require your/my/our extra-careful attention. And the best part, other than the delightful taste of this festively-colored salad? If you spill any on your Cosby sweater, no one will ever notice!

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Salad

Crust Ingredients
2 cups crushed extra thin pretzels
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Filling Ingredients
(1) 8 oz package of cream cheese (light works fine), softened
(1) 8 oz container of whipped topping, thawed
(1) 6 oz package strawberry Jello
(2) 10 oz. packages frozen strawberries (partially thawed)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups boiling water

Make the crust:

  1. For pretzel-crushing, I use the plastic baggie and rolling pin method.
  2. Mix pretzels, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  3. Press the mixture onto the bottom of an oiled 9 X 13 dish.
  4. Bake @ 400 for 10 minutes, then let cool.


Make the filling:

  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until fluffy.
  2. Fold in whipped topping.
  3. Spread evenly over pretzel crust, covering the crust completely, including corners and edges. This prevents the Jello from leaking through and making the crust soggy.
  4. Chill until firm.
  5. Dissolve gelatin into hot water.
  6. Add strawberries, stirring to break them apart.
  7. Chill to slightly thicken gelatin.
  8. Spoon gelatin mixture over cream cheese and chill until set.
  9. Cut into squares – serves 10-12.
  10. Enjoy!
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