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No-bake desserts for summer meals, entertaining

07/12/2013 11:10 AM

07/15/2013 4:58 PM

Let’s face it: It’s hot and no one wants to crank up the oven.

I had some fun with no-bake favorites last year and while trying to stay cool this summer, I looked for a few more to rotate into the sweet-tooth cycle.

We have a long way to go until we feel like torturing ourselves over hot ovens and stoves to make cakes and pies, so here are a few no-bake (or very minimal baking) recipes to keep you cool and sweetly satisfied.

The pink stuff

I’ve always been a fan of the vintage dish ambrosia. You know, it’s the fruity, sour-creamy, nutty and often pink or mint green-colored cold fruit salad that your grandmother loved to serve on the big buffet at gatherings?

When I ran across a recipe called “Pink Stuff” online (there are many variations), it had the look and feel of ambrosia but seemed more hip and fun, so I had to give it a try and adapt it. The simplicity of the directions seemed too good to be true.

I made this for family and friends, and they all seemed to go nuts with the first bite. The proof that this stuff is all that it’s cracked up to be was the empty bowl, which had to be refilled several times.

Lucky for me, it is almost shamefully too easy to make. I get a ton of credit for doing very little, and the kitchen stays cool. Good show.

Banana pineapple coconut pecan cream pie

What’s not to like about a cream pie in the summertime? It’s kept cold, it’s creamy-smooth and heck, it’s good even for breakfast with coffee on special occasions.

My banana pineapple coconut pecan cream pie works as currency. At my beach house, I have the most wonderful barter arrangement. My neighbor mows the yard when the grass grows a bit too high and when I roll into town, I bring over the homemade desserts — one by one. He loved the vintage millionaire pie I made last summer, but this year I went with the more tropical flavors of this pie; it tastes like the essence of summer and the beach.

The only thing you have to bake with this is the crust, and just for 10 or 15 minutes. To make it absolutely “no-bake,” use a graham cracker or Oreo pre-made crust. Those work great and can be just as delicious.

Lemon ice box pie

One of the easiest pies in the world to make is also one of those pies that makes people go a little berserk. I have seen relatives hide this pie in the fridge at gatherings, hoping to take it home after the crowd has settled for other desserts.

As a child, I was addicted to a certain lemon ice box pie that my aunt made. She would make two, and at family parties, she kept one stowed away in my grandmother’s fridge to take back home if no one wanted it.

I was on to this routine even as a kid. When pie No. 1 had been devoured, I went for its understudy, which was lying low in the refrigerator. I wasn’t about to miss that once-a-year opportunity to have a taste of lemony, cool heaven. When I got a little older, that aunt divulged the recipe one day in an effort to keep me away from her backup ice box pie. This was not a pie to hide, this was a pie to make many of —and really fast.

Everyone has a different recipe for lemon ice box pie. One Fort Worth friend uses cream cheese, others use eggs. I keep mine pretty effortless, like my rather crafty aunt did. When you are dealing with vacation kitchens and desserts made in a jiffy, this one is the easiest.

It’s one of those classic desserts that family members of all ages can enjoy together.

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