When you want a sweet treat, but don’t want to turn on the oven, make a no-bake dessert! No-bake isn’t just those delicious chocolate-peanut butter cookies. You don’t need the oven to make these cheesecakes, pies, tiramisu, or bars.
Mastering No-Bake Desserts
Most no-bake recipes come together in a flash and set up in the refrigerator. Cookies and bars are special though. No-bake cookies and bars usually set up at room temperature and can be stored at room temperature as well. They tend to become too hard to enjoy if left in the refrigerator.
No bake-dessert recipes generally call for melting something on the stovetop or in the microwave, mixing quickly by hand or with an electric mixer, and then pouring your mix into a pan or dividing it into portions. Some recipes will require that the dessert be refrigerated between adding layers. Others do not have to be refrigerated until they are completely set.
You will need to work quickly, so have all of your ingredients out and measured before you begin. During the melting step, be sure that everything is totally dissolved before moving on, especially the sugar. Your dessert will have an odd, chewy texture if your ingredients do not fully melt.
No-bake desserts are a great vehicle for leftover ingredients. Crushed cookies, leftover cake, cereal or pretzels at the end of the box, candies, nuts, granola, dried fruits, and even a mixture of baking chips are delicious in no-bake recipes. Swap out ingredients to suit your taste and use up what you have. If you have a dairy allergy, most recipes can be made with dairy-free milks or tofu cream cheese. Coconut milk will add creamy richness.
Cookies and Bars: These recipes are often mixed in a pan on the stovetop. Be sure to choose a pot or pan that is large enough. All too often, the pan chosen doesn’t account for the six cups of cereal or 3 cups of oatmeal that are added. If you are making cookies, spoon them out onto waxed or parchment paper after they are mixed. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pan. Plan to let your cookies set for a few hours or overnight before eating. To help your cookies set up, flip them over after they have been setting out for 2 hours. This exposes the bottom to air and will help them become firm.
After scraping cereal bar mix into a buttered pan or dish, use a piece of buttered wax paper to press down and make the bars compact. A quick and easy way to get them down in the pan is to place a layer of buttered wax paper over the bars and then set a pan the same size as the one you put the bars into over the paper. Press down evenly on the top pan for a minute and then remove the pan and waxed paper. You should have a compact, even layer of cereal bars to enjoy. Allow them to cool completely and then cover the pan with plastic wrap.
Cheesecake: No-bake cheesecake relies on gelatin instead of eggs to make it set up. So, you are creating a jello instead of a custard. Like jello, it will need plenty of time to set up. Be careful not to put in additional wet or moist ingredients that the recipe does not call for. This could overtax the gelatin and cause your cheesecake not to set.
Pie: No-bake pie is all about the creamy filling. Make sure that the filling is well-mixed and all of the ingredients have dissolved before pouring it into the shell. You want to avoid chunks, graininess, or chewiness. No-bake pies can separate easily, so be sure to keep them refrigerated. If possible only have them out of the refrigerator long enough to slice and serve. Place any leftover pieces back in the fridge immediately.
Trifle: Trifles are super-easy and fun to make. Layer cut up pieces of leftover cake or pie with whipped cream or prepared pudding. You could also add bite-sized pieces of fresh fruit. Use a glass dish and colorful ingredients to make this simple dessert elegant.
Pudding: From scratch or a boxed mix, pudding is rich and delicious. If you are making it from scratch, be sure that all of the ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Fully chill your pudding before serving. Top it with whipped cream, crushed cookies, pie filling, or fresh fruit.
S’mores: This could be the easiest no-bake ever! Open up a bag of large marshmallows and a box of graham crackers and unwrap a chocolate bar and you are ready to go. Simply place the chocolate squares on the graham crackers and slightly melt them in the microwave. Place the marshmallow and another cracker on top and microwave in 15 second increments, until it is gooey and delicious. Remove from microwave and let sit for at least one minute so that you do not burn yourself.
Tiramisu: Coffee soaked lady-fingers layered with cream cheese filling and chocolate make this classic italian dessert. Swap out different kind of cookies and soaking liquids. Spread shortbread cookies, soaked in orange juice, with layers of sweetened cream cheese and fruit jam for a new twist on tiramisu!