Strawberry & Pretzel Shortbread Gooey Butter Cake

April 29, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Brinda Ayer
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • makes one 8x8-inch cake
Author Notes

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:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups salted pretzels, very finely ground
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the topping:
  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (preferably dark)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  1. To make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown, puffed and crackly. It should jiggle slightly in the center.
  7. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sdebrango
  • Rachel W
    Rachel W
  • Stephanie Loo
    Stephanie Loo

5 Reviews

Rachel W. June 15, 2021
How do you measure 1.5 c salted pretzels? what size and shape of pretzel do you use?
sdebrango June 15, 2021
Hi Rachel; I am going to chime in and hope Stephanie will too, when I made the recipe I threw a bunch of salted pretzels in the food processor and measured 1.5 c of the ground pretzels.
Stephanie L. June 16, 2021
Yes, that’s how I measured 1.5c of ground pretzels! I used Snyder’s mini pretzels (although any other brand/shape should work too) and pulverized them in my food processor. Hope this is helpful!
sdebrango May 21, 2021
Hi Stephanie; I have a question about the recipe. After baking you put in the freezer? Not the refrigerator? Do you eat the cake frozen?
Stephanie L. May 23, 2021
Yes, after it cools down, you put it in the freezer to set up. It can either be served straight from the freezer or at room temperature, and any leftover squares can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator!