I made a tarte Tatin this weekend, and as interesting and impressive as it was, my apartment has yet to cool off. The thing about using the oven over the summer is that 1) it has to preheat, and 2) an oven is an open window set to 500 degree temperatures right in the center of your apartment. No, thank you.
So if, like me, you want a beautiful, classic dessert for the 4th of July that doesn't require baking, be resourceful. Craft a pie crust and filling out of unexpected ingredients that don't need to be heated, and get both flavor and a stunning centerpiece.
Mix and match the crusts, fillings, and ideas below to craft your own-- when it comes to no-bake desserts, the proportions are flexible (so use your creativity).
- On store-bought pie crusts: if you're willing, go for it. Although making your own is cheaper and definitely fresher, it's just a pie crust.
- With butter, sugar, and crushed up cookies or crackers, make your own. Yeah, it's that easy. A graham cracker pie crust is just crumbs tossed with melted butter and sugar, and patted into the base of a pie pan. For a 9-in. pan, you'll want around 6 Tbsp. of butter.
- Instead of graham crackers (a classic, but not exciting), use vanilla wafers, Ritz crackers, pretzels, cereals, or ginger snaps. Another idea: Biscoff cookies, for a Speculoos-style crust. Oreos aren't a bad option either, plus they don't need added sugar.
- Toasted nuts - In a food processor, combine toasted walnuts, pecans, cashews, or almonds with the same amount of butter and a few tablespoons of sugar (adjust to taste). Press evenly into the bottom of a greased pie pan.
- Idea: Instead of pie, make cake. Make twice the amount of "crust," and reserve half to press onto the top of the filling once frozen for an ice cream sandwich-style cake.
- Option 1, use your in-season, beautiful fruit. Make a glaze with sugar and citrus/berries/tea leaves/spices/any aromatics, toss in the fruit, and let it chill in the fridge. Done.
- Start with ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt, and let it soften in the fridge. Then, choose what you're going to mix into it. Toasted nuts, chopped up. Fruit and berries (macerated in sugar and crushed up so that they'll be soft enough to eat when frozen.) Melted chocolate. Crumbled cookies. Chocolate sauce. Caramel sauce. Then, either swirl in or make layers and shapes with the add-ins. (Personally, I'd like to try pressing softened ice cream sandwiches into concentric circles around the pie pan, with additional ice cream or oreos where there are gaps.) Chill in the freezer until solid enough to cut with a knife.
- Use lemon curd (store-bought or otherwise) as a base for beautifully arranged fresh fruit. Optionally, top with whipped cream or sweetened sour cream, and chill until hard enough to cut.
- If you've ever seen a Kool-Aid pie, don't get worried-- this uses sweetened condensed milk but to a less-sugary end. Mix a can with the zest and juice of any sour citrus fruit (orange might be too sweet, but I'd love to try grapefruit, or lemon on top of a gingersnap crust). Gently, mix in whipped cream (or Cool Whip), and then chill in the freezer until hardened.
- If you have a kitchen torch, add meringue to any of the above, only torching lightly before chilling again.
The last step, but it's not easy. The key to faking a baked pie is in the presentation, so don't forget to drizzle with extra chocolate sauce, top with a crushed nuts, or arrange fruit slices in pretty designs.
For more no-bake recipes, try: