From Johnna’s Kitchen: Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This week we have three ingredients with interesting histories to make a unique – and delicious – recipe!

Strawberries: Members of the rose family, the strawberry plant is a perennial. This means if you plant one now, it will come back next year and the following and the year after that. It may not bear fruit immediately, but once it does, it will remain productive for about five years. Native Americans ate strawberries long before European settlers arrived. As spring’s first fruit, they were a treat, eaten freshly picked or baked into cornbread. The ancient Romans thought strawberries had medicinal powers. They used them to treat everything from depression to fainting to fever, kidney stones, bad breath, and sore throats.

Jell-O: There were four original flavors of Jell-O in 1904— lemon, orange, strawberry, and raspberry. More than just a great treat, Jell-O played a part in several epic films: in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 silent film, The Ten Commandments, Jell-O was used to aid in the parting of the sea effect. In the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz, the colorful horses in the Emerald City got their hues from Jell-O powders.

Pretzels: In 610 A.D. while baking bread, an Italian monk decided to create a treat to motivate his distracted catechism students. He rolled out ropes of dough, twisted them to resemble hands crossed on the chest in prayer, and baked them. The monk christened his snacks “pretiola,” Latin for “little reward.” Parents who tasted their children’s classroom treats referred to them as brachiola, or “little arms.” When pretiola arrived in Germany, they were called bretzels. Hard pretzels were “invented” in the late 1600s, when a snoozing apprentice in a Pennsylvania bakery accidentally overbaked his pretzels, creating crunchy, seemingly inedible, knots. Julius Sturgis opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania, in 1861. He received his original pretzel recipe as a thank you from a down-on-his-luck job seeker after Sturgis gave the man dinner. Until the 1930s, pretzels were handmade, and the average worker could twist 40 a minute. In 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the first automated pretzel machine, which enabled large bakeries to make 245 pretzels per minute, or five tons in one day.

Strawberries, pretzels, AND Jell-O? How can this be anything but amazing?

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups crushed pretzels
¾ cup butter, melted
3 T sugar
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
12 oz. whipped cream
2 cups boiling water
3 cups strawberries, sliced (leave some aside for top)

1-9×13 baking pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Directions:

Combine melted butter and sugar. Stir in the crushed pretzels. Press evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and whipped cream. Beat until smooth. Spread over pretzel crust. Make sure to get the cream mixture tight against the edges of the pan to prevent the Jell-O mixture from seeping through.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from stove and add Jell-O. Stir until Jell-O is dissolved. Add sliced strawberries. Pour over cream layer and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Top with whipped cream and strawberries to serve.

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