Strawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Strawberry Pretzel Squares The English language is a funny thing. I never understood why some dishes that are sweet are called “salads”. It’s off-putting. It’s in the name. If you hear “strawberry pretzel salad”, what do you picture? I imagine a bowl of salad greens with strawberries and pretzels. No, thank you. Other examples of such salads are Jello salad, snickers salad, cookie salad and the list goes on and on.
Strawberry Pretzel Squares Strawberry Pretzel SaladBut after reading numerous blogs all featuring the same recipe and all with glowing reviews of how they grew up with this particular dish and how it’s everyone’s favorite at their family gathering, I broke down and had to try it. And after trying it myself, I can see why people would like it, especially with fresh strawberries. The pretzel crust is salty and crunchy, the cheesecake layer is smooth and creamy and the strawberry jello layer is fruity and refreshing. You pretty much hit every flavor profile. The best part? It’s super easy and the ingredient list is very short. Oh! Also, you only have to bake the pretzel crust for 10 minutes so your kitchen doesn’t get too hot. It’s a serious win-win-win situation.
Strawberry Pretzel SaladStrawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Ingredients:

2 c. finely crushed pretzels
1 cup and 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
¾ c. salted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. cool whip, defrosted
2 c. boiling water
1 – six ounce package strawberry jello
1 ½ c. cold water
4 c. hulled and sliced strawberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and prep a 9×13 inch baking dish by spraying the inside with nonstick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir the pretzel crumbs and 3 tablespoons of sugar until well mixed.
  3. Pour the melted butter over the pretzel mixture and stir until evenly coated.
  4. Press the pretzel crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing it down with a spatula to form an even layer.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and cool completely.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in the cool whip and spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. (Wipe off any cream cheese mix you get along the sides of the glass pan for a clean presentation later on.)
  7. Refrigerate crust while you prep the strawberry layer.
  8. In a large bowl, mix the strawberry jello mix with the boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and refrigerate for about 1½ hours. (At this point, the mixture should have the consistency of egg whites.)
  9. Stir in fresh strawberries into the jello mixture and carefully pour over the prepared cream cheese layer and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the strawberry layer is set. If you wiped the sides clean as suggested in step 6, the strawberry layer should set to a glass-like finish.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

Two years ago, I bought a Jello egg mold with grand hopes that it will mold and form beautiful rainbow-striped Jello eggs.   After mixing endless bowls of different flavored Jello, the project flopped terribly.  The eggs didn’t set properly and I ended up with shattered Jello eggs that wouldn’t hold their shape.  I called it a lost cause and put the mold away thinking I would never use it again.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 3

Fast forward two years and I unearthed the egg mold while digging through my cake pans.  Since Easter is around the corner, I called it fate and contemplated a way to use it.  It didn’t come easy, but in the end I finally thought of an original idea.  An idea that was original until this moment when I googled it and saw that 7 hours ago someone beat me to the punch!!  NOOOO!  Le sigh.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 2

Well original or not, these eggs look so much like the real thing at first glance it’s a little weird to eat them.  But you need to, because encased in the chocolate egg is the most heavenly bite of tiramisu.  It’s adorable and let’s be honest, it’s a little fun freaking out people.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 4

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

You will need:

1 Batch of Lady Fingers (Recipe Below)
1 Batch of Mascarpone Cream (Recipe Below)
1 Cup of Strong Coffee
1/2 Package of White Chocolate Melts
1 Jello Egg Mold*
Approximately 10 Pieces of Yellow Chocolate Melts
Cocoa Powder (Optional)

Assembly:

  1. Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl/cup with a spout.
  2. Melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave in 15 second intervals until completely melted.
  3. Thoroughly spray the inside of your egg mold with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Use the spout of your bowl/cup to pour white chocolate into the egg about ¼ of the way.
  5. Start rotating your egg mold (left, right, and upside down) until it starts to set.** (When flipping the egg mold upside down, do so above your melted chocolate so the excess can drip back into the bowl.)
  6. Once set, repeat steps 4 and 5 two more times to ensure through covering and place in freezer to completely set. (4-5 minutes)
  7. While the eggs are setting,
    1. Punch out ½ -⅔ in circles of the prepared lady fingers.
    2. Place Mascarpone cream into a piping bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain piping tip.
  8. Take the eggs out of the freezer and carefully unmold the chocolate. It may stick a little. Just wiggle it around and it should come out in one piece.
  9. Run a serrated knife in hot tap water and wipe off excess water. While the knife is hot, cut the top ¼ -⅙ of the egg. (After every egg, make sure to reheat your knife for easier cutting.)
  10. Place the eggs back into the bottom half of the egg mold, and put about a teaspoon of the mascarpone cream inside.
  11. Layer one piece of the lady finger and with a small pastry brush, brush coffee onto the lady finger to soak it. Place a second piece of lady finger on top and brush coffee again.
  12. Layer another teaspoon of mascarpone cream, and repeat step 11.
  13. Layer the final teaspoon of mascarpone cream and let set in freezer.
  14. Melt the yellow chocolate melts and put into a squeeze bottle for easy use.***
  15. Take the chocolate out of the freezer and squeeze a dollop of yellow chocolate melts to imitate the yolk.
  16. Optional: Pinch a little cocoa powder between your fingers and (over the sink) flick specks of cocoa onto the white chocolate. Rotate the egg and repeat until completely speckled.  (This resembles the cocoa that is usually dusted on top of traditional tiramisu.)

Lady Fingers

Ingredients:
2 eggs, separated
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
⅓ c. flour, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.
  3. Slowly add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Empty the egg whites in a separate bowl.
  5. Place 2 egg yolks and 4 tablespoons sugar into the mixer bowl and mix until pale and very thick.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and fold in sifted flour. (It will be very thick.)
  7. Mix in 1/3 of the reserved whipped egg whites to the flour mixture
  8. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites 1/3 at a time.
  9. Spread the batter onto prepared sheet pan to about ¼ inch thick.
  10. Bake about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway until golden brown
  11. Let cool.

Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. powdered sugar
4 oz. mascarpone cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a cold stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until stiff peaks form.

* If you do not own a Jello egg mold, you can always take a shortcut and order pre-made hollow chocolate eggs from Amazon. If you do this, start from step 7.
** This process is messy. Don’t let that get you down!
*** If you do not have a squeeze bottle, you can always just spoon on the chocolate.