No celebratory meal is complete without dessert, but on hot days, the very thought of lighting the oven can make you wilt. (If you’re lucky enough to have the central air, or don’t mind the heat, here are some summer fruit pies for you. Bake!) These 16 no-bake recipes are for those sultry days. A handful of these dishes require some stovetop or microwave work, but most don’t need any heat sources, so you can stay cool while making something sweet.
These ethereal chocolate mousse bars from Samantha Seneviratne come together quickly and without much hassle. Serve them with whipped cream, fresh or the kind found in a can. Substitute vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies for graham crackers in the crust if you feel it.
No jokes, you can whip together this five-ingredient recipe from Vallery Lomas in minutes. The cream and powdered sugar are beaten until fluffy, then combined with sweetened and crushed berries. Serve with shortbread cookies or delicate tuiles.
Recipe: crazy blackberry
A vibrant show that doesn’t require an oven? Subscribe. This beauty from Nik Sharma combines a rich and creamy mango and lime cheesecake base with a tangy mango jelly top. One reader couldn’t find canned mango, so he used canned cherries instead and found it “fantastic”.
Recipe: Mango and lime cheesecake without cooking
In episode 18 of Jennifer Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show,” she called this Melissa Clark recipe, adapted by chef Thomas Keller, “the most important thing the New York Times has ever done,” and who are we to argue? It’s basically homemade Magic Shell and only requires two ingredients: good sweet and sour chocolate and coconut oil. If you’re feeling ambitious, pair it with Julia Moskin’s simpler vanilla ice cream.
Amanda Hesser adapted this recipe from Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray of London’s River Café, and it’s exactly what to do when you’ve harvested too much strawberries on the farm. It requires a whole lemon – zest and all – strawberries, sugar and more lemon juice. That’s all. The result is deliciously bright and spicy.
Recipe: strawberry sorbet
Choose a fruit, any fruit, and layer it with creamy vanilla pudding, jam, and store-bought cake, then top it with a swirl of whipped cream. Here it is! You have a cake worthy of the queen. This recipe from Melissa Clark calls for ladyfingers or sponge cake, but just about any plain cake or tender cookie will do.
Recipe: Classic soup with berries or citrus fruits
This amazing Yossy Arefi cheesecake is made with a combination of cream cheese, sour cream and whipped cream, so it’s lighter and softer than traditional baked cheesecake. This is a good thing. Use fresh or frozen berries for the swirly top, and while the recipe calls for filtering the seeds, leave some for texture and crunch.
Recipe: No-bake cheesecake with raspberry curl
Kulfi, a popular Indian frozen dessert, is traditionally prepared by boiling milk to reduce it, then freezing the base (not churning) with fruit pulp, spices or nuts. This Tejal Rao quick recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, cream, and canned Alphonso mangoes. His mother made it all year when Tejal was growing up, in between visits to see family in India. “It’s not authentic and delicious,” he wrote.
Recipe: Quick Mango Kulfi
These Samantha Seneviratne Peanut Butter Cups are a guaranteed hit with kids of all ages. Experiment with different chocolates and nut butters; add a dollop of jam or dulce de leche to the peanut butter filling before covering with chocolate; or sprinkle with sea salt in flakes or colored sprinkles.
Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
There is no drop of dairy in these Lidey Heuck creamy bars, which are inspired by the frozen Key lime pie. Made with store-bought dairy-free coconut or vanilla ice cream, they combine quickly. Be sure to use unsweetened, finely chopped (also called dried) coconut for this recipe – regular shredded or flaked coconut will be too coarse.
Recipe: Vegan coconut and lime bars
The original no-bake cookie, these unassuming treats are sometimes known as cow patties or preacher cookies. They are as simple as possible: combine sugar, milk, butter, cocoa powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder in a pot over medium heat until smooth, stir in the peanut butter, then transfer the cookies to a baking sheet, pressing slightly down flatten. Chill in the refrigerator until solidified. Ta-da! Cookies.
A more elaborate twist than plain old whipped cream, Mark Bittman’s recipe for Swedish custard is just whipped cream with a little bit of sour cream incorporated. (Add sugar and a drizzle of liqueur if desired.) The light sour cream flavor completes the ripening, sweet summer berries like a dream. As one reader said, “Let the glory of strawberries shine through.”
Recipe: Strawberries With Swedish Cream
doubtful? Us too, but this is the little cupcake that it could. Adapted from “Cooking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Cook!” by Deanna F. Cook, this recipe was originally developed for children, but we know people of all ages who love it. For a melted chocolate version, sprinkle the top with a few mini chocolate chips before putting it in the microwave, then remove it a few seconds first.
Recipe: Chocolate cup cake
Everyone loves a lemon dessert. These thick, velvety puddings by Melissa Clark, inspired by a British dessert called posset, are prepared on the stovetop and set with lemon juice instead of egg, cornstarch, or jelly. The secret is to boil the cream and sugar before adding the fresh lemon juice, allowing the cream to thicken slightly.
Recipe: Lemon custard with strawberries without cooking
If you can build a Lego tower, you can make this impressive ice cream cake by Ali Slagle, which is inspired by the spumoni, the frozen dessert typically served in Italian-American red sauces. Ice cream is the star of the show here, so use the best you can. But the most important advice? Free up a lot of space in the freezer before you start building. The finished cake is about 4 inches tall.
Recipe: Spumoni Ice Cream Cake
Tofu may not be the first thing you think about when it comes to desserts, but listen to us: in this recipe from Mark Bittman, velvety tofu, melted chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and chili powder are blended together in a blender for a amazing creamy and delicious pudding that will delight young and old.
Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Pudding With Cinnamon and Chile
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