Strawberry-Orange Cheesecake Pretzel Bars

I received a large box in the mail today.  Large and heavy.  I’ve been waiting for this box to arrive for a week now.  It should have been here last week, but you know, snow and such.  As UPS put it, “adverse weather conditions” caused my box to sit, lonely and unloved, in a warehouse in Mesquite (ick) for days.

I’d been checking the tracking info for this box pretty much 4 times a day, every day.  So today, when it said “Delivered!” in bright green friendly letters, I said, “We need to go to the apartment office like NOW.”  So we went.  And as I carried this large, heavy box back to the car, I could feel myself smiling like a total goof.  Ben said it was the biggest smile he’d seen on my face in at least 2 days.  Hmmm.

Do you want to know what was in the box?  I almost don’t want to tell you, just because of how jealous you’ll probs be.  But also, I kind of want to make you jealous.  It was a shiny, gleaming, brand new 11 (yes, eleven) cup Cuisinart food processor, courtesy of Ben’s lovely parents.

For comparison, see my wussy coffeemaker in the background


So I did what any sensible adult would do.  I took every single part out of the box – this included multiple very sharp blades – and laid them out across my coffee table and floor (don’t worry, I washed them after).  I said, “If you step on these, you’ll get hurt, and I’ll be upset because you stepped on my new food processor.”  I looked at it for awhile, felt its shiny buttons and handles, read the instruction booklet…I even considered watching the How-To DVD.  But instead I decided to make something with my powerful new machine.  Wise choice.  DVD would have been boring and would not have given me these yummy babies:

I’ve been wanting to make these Strawberry Pretzel Squares from Brown Eyed Baker for a long time, and I thought they’d make a fun Valentine’s treat, seeing as they’re red and all.  Plus, the crust required a few pulses in the food processor…perfect fit.  I adapted the recipe some, mostly because I forgot to buy some things at the store.  They would obvs be delicious made exactly according to the recipe, so I’ll post a link to the original as well.  They were really good this way too though!  Still a perfect combination of salty, sweet, and creamy.

The biggest difference is that I didn’t use any Cool Whip for the cream cheese filling (item #1 I forgot to buy).  Instead, I made a very simple cheesecake layer with sugar and an egg.  This required one extra baking step, but the layer was thin so it didn’t take very long.  I also used some graham crackers in the crust (mostly because I wanted to pulse MORE things in my food processor), and instead of strawberries, I used chopped orange segments in the Jell-O layer.  I think this is generally thought of as more of a summer dessert, but it works perfectly using oranges, which are in season now.  Finallyyyyy this is a half-batch…yes, I forgot to buy a second box of Jell-O.   Everything worked out wonderfully though.  The bars were apparently devoured at Ben’s station today.  A perfect sweet treat for your sweet Valentine.  Or coworkers.  Or friends.  Or yourself 🙂

Strawberry-Orange Cheesecake Pretzel Bars

Makes 1 8-inch square pan, or 16 squares (easily doubled for a 9×13 inch pan)

For crust
2 cups pretzels
3 graham crackers, broken up into smaller pieces
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For cream cheese layer
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
For Jell-O layer
1 package strawberry Jell-O, a 4 serving box
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
2 navel oranges, segmented and chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF with a rack in the center.
2.  For crust – Pulse pretzels and graham crackers your awesome new food processor until finely ground.  Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and salt, then the melted butter until it’s evenly distributed.  (I just realized this could probably be done in the food processor too.  Rookie mistake.)  Press crumbs evenly into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan and bake 10 minutes.  Let cool 15 minutes on a wire rack.
2. For cream cheese layer – In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat for another minute until combined.  Once crust has cooled slightly, pour cream cheese mixture over the crust and bake for another 10 minutes until set.  Cool completely on a wire rack while the Jell-O chills.
3. For Jell-O – Meanwhile, prepare Jell-O according to package directions with boiling and cold water.  Cover and refrigerate until thick and beginning to set (a spoon should leave a definite impression when drawn through the Jell-O), about 1 1/2 hours.  Stir in the chopped orange and pour over the cheesecake layer and spread evenly.  Chill until completely set, about 3 hours.  Slice into squares and serve.  Bars will keep, covered and refrigerated, for a few days.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Uhhhhh bonus: before realizing I only had enough Jell-O for a half batch, I made a full crust recipe.  So I currently have a bag of pretzel/graham cracker/butter/sugar crumbs in my fridge.  I’m brainstorming a recipe to use it all up…hopefully before I eat it all as it is because it’s basically like crack for a baker.  Thanks for reading, happy baking!



  1. Yeah, I’m so happy for you! I hope you get as much pleasure out of using your Cuisinart as I have from mine — which I received from my “boyfriend’s” parents almost 30 years ago! It’s taken a licking but keeps on ticking!

    And the bars sound yummy!!

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