Strawberry Pretzel Salad meets St. Louis Style Gooey Butter Cake! This upgraded version of a gooey butter cake combines two of my favorite retro desserts. Instead of a yeast-raised sweet dough on the bottom, the base is a buttery, crunchy, sweet-and-salty pretzel shortbread crust. The topping is a not-too-sweet gooey topping that puffs up golden brown in the oven and forms a crackly top. In between these two layers is a hidden layer of strawberry preserves that concentrate in the oven for a burst of summer flavor. —Stephanie Loo
What You'll Need
For the crust:
unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups
salted pretzels, very finely ground
1 1/2 cups
For the topping:
full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons
brown sugar (preferably dark)
large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups
To make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.
In an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter cubes and powdered sugar together on low speed, scraping often until the butter is soft. Add finely ground pretzel crumbs and flour.
Add to baking pan and use hands to press into an even layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before adding the filling.
While the crust bakes and cools, prepare the topping: In an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and salt together, scraping frequently, until very light and fluffy and no lumps remain. Add in the brown sugar and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, until the mixture is no longer gritty. Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat on high for another 3 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar over the top of the mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
With an offset spatula, spread the strawberry preserves over the cooled shortbread crust. Dollop the cream cheese mixture over the preserves, and spread to the edges of the pan with an offset spatula.
Bake for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown, puffed and crackly. It should jiggle slightly in the center.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight. When ready to serve, remove pan from refrigerator and slice into squares; dust with powdered sugar, if desired.