This refreshing dessert was inspired by the strawberry pretzel salad that is served in tea rooms all over the South. Save a few of the smallest, prettiest, strawberries for garnish.
For the Crust:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups finely crushed pretzels, 6 oz
For the Cream Cheese Layer:
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
For the Strawberry Layer:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup strawberry puree
2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
Whipped cream & strawberries
1. For the crust, preheat the oven to 400°. In a 10-inch deep dish pie pan, microwave the butter until just melted, about 1 minute on high. Stir in the brown sugar until the sugar is melted. Stir in the pretzels,(make sure the pretzels are finely crushed or the crust won’t come out of the pan) and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Bake 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese layer. With an electric mixer in a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and salt until fluffy. Blend in the vanilla and egg and spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the crust. Bake another 10 minutes, Check to see if you need to shield the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning, then bake another 5 to7 minutes or just until set. Cool completely.
3. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let stand for a couple of minutes. Over low heat, stir in the sugar. Continue stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberry puree.
4. Arrange the strawberries over the cooled cream cheese layer.
5. When the gellatin mixture has cooled and thickened pour it over the strawberries in the pie. Refrigerate to set.