Tuesday, March 5, 2024

No oven needed: Easy no-bake treats for a summer sweet tooth

We’re at the height of summer, and where I am, it’s hot. And I mean really hot!

I know some of you are in cooler climes counting your blessings, but having a few easy no-bake treats to add to your repertoire is always a good thing.

Sometimes it’s as simple as freezing leftover coffee for an added flavor and caffeine blast in iced coffee. You can do the same with any kind of agua fresca too and mix-and-match the frozen cubes with different kinds of juice. I’ve been keeping a supply of frozen grapes in the freezer, next to some homemade ice pops.

I have to thank my neighbor Julie for sharing the Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars recipe after ambushing me at the front door with a sample. So yummy! And so easy to make. They’ve definitely earned a place in my “forever” recipe file.

The 5-Minute Fruit Mousse, too, is exactly what it says. I was skeptical; how could egg whites whip when mixed with frozen-fruit purée? Well, they do — and it’s absolutely delicious. Use whatever frozen fruit you have on hand: berries, cherries, mangos.

Regardless of the weather, who doesn’t have at least a little bit of a sweet tooth? For all of us who do — but don’t want to turn on the oven — here are some quick and easy, no-bake treats you’ll surely enjoy.

No-Bake Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (Nabisco “Honey Bran” cookies work well)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar or grated piloncillo
  • ¾+ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 6 oz. (half a bag) chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square pan. Melt chips in microwave (50% power for 1–2 minutes). Stir; pour over peanut butter mixture, spreading evenly with a spatula.

Chill for at least one hour or until set. Cut into squares and try not to eat them all.

5-Minute Fruit Mousse

5-minute fruit mousse
Egg whites are the secret to this creamy, fluffy fruit mousse.
  • 2¼ cups (about 8½ ounces) frozen berries or fruit
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • Garnish: Fresh berries, whipped cream

Process fruit in food processor or with a hand mixer to a rough puree, about 1 minute. Add sugar, pulse briefly to combine. Add egg whites; process 2–3 minutes until smooth, fluffy and doubled or tripled in volume. Scrape down sides if needed.

Spoon mousse into glasses and garnish. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 2 hours; it won’t hold longer than that.

No-Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 10 oz. chocolate cookie wafers
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Pulse cookies and granulated sugar in food processor/blender until fine. Transfer to large bowl; stir in melted butter. Firmly press into bottom and 1½ inches up the sides of an 8-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in vanilla, sour cream and melted chocolate until smooth.

Spoon mixture into crust.  Smooth top with spatula. Chill until set, about 4 hours. Dust with cocoa powder, let sit 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Bark

 If you prefer, omit the espresso powder.

  • 1 (12 oz.) bag white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin purée
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp. instant espresso powder

Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Using a double-boiler or microwave, melt white chocolate chips until smooth. Transfer half to another bowl. Quickly stir in pumpkin purée and spice until fully incorporated.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Bark
During these dog days of summer, the flavor of Pumpkin Spice Latte Bark will remind you of cooler weather.

Pour pumpkin layer onto center of prepared cookie sheet. Using a spatula, quickly spread into a thin layer. Place in freezer for about 10 minutes.

Set aside a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate for drizzling. Add instant espresso powder to the remaining melted chocolate and stir until mixed. (Granules won’t fully dissolve.)

Once pumpkin layer is somewhat solid, pour coffee layer over top and smooth with a spatula. Return to freezer for 15 minutes or until solid.

Peel from parchment in one piece. Drizzle with melted chocolate and break into pieces. Bark will soften as it comes to room temperature; keep refrigerated and serve right before eating.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

  • ½ cup. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar or grated piloncillo, packed
  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1½ lb. semisweet or milk chocolate, chopped, OR equivalent regular chocolate chips
  • Mini chocolate chips for garnish
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
You can substitute piloncillo for the brown sugar in these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.

Mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until mixture can be formed into balls.

Shape chilled dough into 1½ inch balls. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment, cover loosely and freeze for 2 hours.

When ready to dip truffles, melt chopped chocolate in double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Using a fork, dip each chilled truffle one at a time, coating in the melted chocolate and shaking gently to remove excess.

To garnish, quickly sprinkle mini chips on top after dipping. If dough balls become too soft as you’re dipping, return to freezer for 30 minutes to chill. Transfer to wax-paper lined plate or tray to set. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Janet Blaser is the author of the best-selling book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats, featured on CNBC and MarketWatch. She has lived in Mexico since 2006. You can find her on Instagram at @thejanetblaser.

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