Tis the season for tradition – but this year I’m putting a spin on an old fashioned favorite.
While the origins of this mysterious dish date back to the 1960s when there was an excess of gelatin being produced, the dish lives on in new interations all over the Midwest and beyond.
For my variation on the classic salad-style dish, I firmed up the base to make it more like cheesecake (rather than a filling).
Here’s What You Need:
- pretzels – smaller pretzels are easier to crush than big ones (and make for a better topping!)
- cream cheese – after the cheesecake center chills, it will firm up thanks to cream cheese
- Cool Whip – I recommend using whipped topping and NOT whipped cream because whipped topping will create a more stable base
- strawberry flavored gelatin – I used Jell-O brand strawberry gelatin, but feel free to use your favorite brand
- fresh sliced strawberries – these will go on top for added garnish and flavors
- whipped cream – different than Cool Whip, can be used for topping
- butter & sugar – of course to make the dish complete, we’ll need room temperature butter and both brown and white sugar on hand for this dessert
It’s really important that your ingredients are the proper temperature at all stages of assembly or else you will end up with something more like the traditional “strawberry pretzel salad” consistency rather than a cheesecake.
First, make sure all cold ingredients are at room temperature prior to starting. I usually plan which day I want to make the dish and then that morning set out the ingredients to start coming up to room temperature.
For example, if you do not have room temperature cream cheese, you will end up with a lumpy cheesecake base.
Once the cheesecake is assembled, you will need to let it firm up completely before moving on to the next step. If the cheesecake top is not firm, it will not hold the Jell-O topping.
Then it is very important to let the Jell-O layer cool until no longer steaming before pouring it on top – otherwise, all that chilling you just did will have been wasted. I let the Jell-O cool until it is no longer visibly steaming.
After that, it is just a matter of letting the Jell-O top layer set completely – over about an hour in the fridge – before putting on the strawberry slices, pretzels and spirals of whipped cream.
Old Fashioned Strawberry Pretzel Cheesecake Pie
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl mix together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and brown sugar. Press into a greased pie pan or 9×9 round spring-form pan. Bake 5-8 minutes then set aside to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, use a hand mixer to whip together the cream cheese and sugar. Fold in the Cool Whip until it reaches a smooth texture. Pour the mix into the pie base. Chill 8-10 hours or overnight, until firm.
- When the cheesecake base is set, prepare the strawberry gelatin according to the quick set instructions on the box. Pour the Jell-o slowly over the cheesecake base until it fills all the way up the sides (you may have some leftover gelatin mix). Place in the fridge and chill until the gelatin has set or for at least two hours.
- After the strawberry gelatin topping is set, decorate the top of the pie with the sliced strawberries, whipped cream and whole pretzels. Serve right away, cover and chill leftovers for 2-3 days. Enjoy!