|A layered dessert, made with a buttery shortbread crust, topped with a cream cheese and whipped topping layer, a layer of fresh or frozen strawberries and finished with more whipped cream and chopped nuts.|
Strawberry DelightI have a secret I've been keeping. In the midst of this recent wintery weather, which for some of you has meant snow, I have been chowing down on fresh, local strawberries. Louisiana strawberries. They show up this time of year, every year, and I sure do look forward to it.
I admit - after all the wonderful, traditional, but rich holiday foods, and the far more sweets than I ever usually eat otherwise, I really crave fresh salads and fresh fruits in January. I do! Luckily, I am a fan of citrus and right now is prime citrus season in Florida, as well as early crop strawberries too. While Florida has wonderful strawberries too, I favor the deliciously sweet, early crop strawberries from Louisiana the most.
Y'all know how much I love my layered desserts too, including the number one queen of them all of course! Made with a variety of crusts, usually layered with some kind of cream cheese filling and anything from layers of puddings to layers of fruit, and finished most often with a whipped topping, they are just a perfect dessert for parties, potlucks, church suppers and other gatherings.
Now... before I confuse anybody, over the years there have been a few desserts known by the name "delight." One of the best known is often called Strawberry Pretzel Delight, a dessert that has a crust of crushed pretzels, topped with a similar cream cheese filling and finished with strawberry gelatin. I know it by the name Pretzel Salad, and though I'm sure that you've already seen it around and about plenty on food blogs, y'all know it'll show up right here too one day! It is a southern classic.
This Strawberry Delight dessert is a little bit different from that recipe, and more closely related to those layered pudding desserts many of us are so fond of. Though there are lots of ways to lower the fat and calories - I'll leave that up to you to settle on. With fresh Louisiana and Florida strawberries available right now in the markets of the Deep South, this dessert is a perfect vehicle for using fresh strawberries, although it is more commonly made using frozen.
Keep in mind when using fresh strawberries that you should always taste the plain strawberry first before adding any sugar. Sweetness can vary according to time of season and where they are grown, and a quick taste will give you an idea of how much sugar you'll need to add.
Here's how to make this Strawberry Delight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. First things first, we'll macerate the strawberries. Slice them into a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar; refrigerate until needed, giving them a stir once in awhile.
We start off with the typical shortbread type of crust made with butter, flour and nuts. I'm still on the fence as to whether I prefer the butter cold, softened or melted to produce the best crust. I went with softened here.
Mix that together, until it resembles a cookie dough.
Spread into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass Pyrex baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about an hour. The bottom of the pan should be completely cool to the touch before you attempt to layer in the remaining ingredients.
For the filling, cream together one 8-ounce block of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of softened butter, then mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended.
Gently fold in 2 cups of the whipped topping. Doesn't that just look dreamy.
Spread mixture on the cooled crust.
Fully covering the crust.
Drain the strawberries well and using a slotted spoon, scatter them all over the top of the cream cheese, whipped topping filling. You can use thawed, frozen strawberries too - just note whether they are sweetened or un-sweetened and make adjustments as needed.
Top the strawberries with enough of the remaining whipped cream to cover - yes, add extra if you like!
Sprinkle pecans on top, cover and refrigerate for a full 24 hours. Carry to a party or potluck so you have plenty of people to share it with!
Recipe: Strawberry Delight©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 mins | Inactive time: 24 hours | Yield: About 12 servings
For the Crust:
- 1 pound of fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1/4 cup or more granulated sugar
For the Filling and Topping:
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of finely minced pecans
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 large (16 ounce) Cool Whip, or equivalent homemade whipped cream, divided
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
Combine the strawberries and sugar; refrigerate until needed, giving them a stir once in awhile. Taste for sweetness and adjust as needed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix together the flour, pecans and butter until mixture resembles cookie dough. Spread into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about an hour.
For the filling, cream together the cream cheese and butter, then mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended. Gently fold in 2 cups of the whipped topping and spread mixture on the cooled crust.
Drain the strawberries well and using a slotted spoon, tap off any excess juices and scatter the strawberries over the top of the cream cheese filling. Top the strawberries with enough of the remaining whipped cream to cover. Sprinkle pecans on top, if using, cover and refrigerate for a full 24 hours.
Cook's Notes May substitute a large 16-ounce package of frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed and drained. The original Strawberry Delight recipes generally used 1 envelope of Dream Whip, a handy shelf stable whipped topping product that is actually still available. Each envelope of Dream Whip when prepared makes about 2 cups in volume.
Variations: Line the bottom of the pan with Nilla wafers instead of the crust, or make a cookie crust using crushed Nilla wafers, cookies, or graham crackers in place of the flour. Can also use canned strawberry or cherry pie filling. Okay to substitute margarine, sugar free and lower fat products also, if desired.
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