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The Coolest No-Bake Desserts

July 14, 2014

It’s almost that time of year when turning on the oven becomes unimaginable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t whip up incredible desserts. From a decadent layering of chocolate, buttercream, and graham-crust to a parfait with fresh fruit, here are 7 sweet and summery desserts, no baking required.

See more: Summery, No-Bake Desserts »

Nanaimo Bars

A chocolate-, almond-, and coconut-enriched graham crust supports a dense layer of buttercream topped with a slick of semisweet chocolate.



20 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup ground almonds
1 egg
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate


1. Heat 8 tbsp. butter, cocoa, and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth; stir in crumbs, coconut, almonds, and egg. Transfer to a parchment paper—lined 8”x 8” baking pan and press evenly into bottom; set aside.

2. Beat 8 tbsp. butter, confectioners’ sugar, cream, powdered milk, and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed of a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy; spread over chocolate layer.

3. Melt remaining butter and chocolate in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat; spread over vanilla layer. Chill until set, at least 4 hours. Cut into squares to serve. 

See more: The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World

Shortbread Parfait

This recipe, originally from Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, Oregon, uses homemade shortbread cookies. Store-bought cookies can be substituted for a simpler, no-bake version. 



1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
1¼ cups sugar
2½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus 1 tbsp. zest
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1½ cups blueberries
1 small mango, peeled and chopped
2 cups heavy cream


1. Stir ½ cup strawberries, ¼ cup sugar, ½ tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 tsp. vanilla in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

2. Heat oven to 425°. Whisk flour and salt in a bowl; set aside. Using an electric hand mixer, beat ¾ cup sugar and remaining lemon juice, plus the zest, 1 tsp. vanilla, and the butter in a bowl until fluffy. Add yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, and, with the motor running, slowly add flour mixture until dough forms. Divide dough into 6 balls and flatten into ¾″ disks; transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and slightly firm, 20–25 minutes; let cool completely.

3. Purée reserved strawberry mixture with ½ cup blueberries and half the mango in a blender into a smooth sauce. Whip remaining sugar, vanilla, and the cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Spoon ½ cup whipped cream into 6 bowls; crumble ½ cookie over each. Top with half of the remaining berries and mango, and drizzle with some of the fruit sauce. Repeat with remaining cream, cookies, fruit, and sauce.

See more: Cool and Creamy Desserts

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies

Adapted from Patty Piner’s soul food cookbook Sweets, these chewy chocolate cookies are made entirely on the stovetop.



2 cups granulated sugar
8 tbsp.unsalted butter
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup milk
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp.vanilla extract


Bring sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and milk to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in oats, walnuts, and vanilla extract. Using a 1-oz. scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop cookies onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet; chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

See more: Classic Cookie Recipes

Blueberry Pie Milkshake

A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a hefty slice of pie go into the blender together, and out comes the ultimate dessert: A creamy shake with buttery crumbles of pie crust and ribbons of gorgeous fruit filling throughout.



1 3”-slice blueberry pie
10 oz. vanilla ice cream, softened
Whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, for serving


Purée pie and ice cream in a blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass; garnish with whipped cream and cherry.

See more: Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake

Raspado de Mango (Mango Ice)

This refreshing frozen treat, made from bottled or fresh mango juice, is a Mexican version of granita.



4 cups bottled or fresh mango juice or nectar
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice


Heat 2 cups mango juice, sugar, and salt in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining mango juice and lime juice; let cool. Pour into an 8″ x 8″ baking dish and place in freezer. Freeze, scraping and stirring mixture thoroughly every hour as ice crystals form, to prevent it freezing into a solid mass, until mixture is the consistency of shaved ice, about 4 hours. Spoon into chilled bowls to serve.

See more: 10 Refreshing Sorbets and Granitas

Ricotta and Coffee Mousse

The recipe for this elegant, easy-to-make dessert is based on one prepared at Ristorante Dattilo in Calabria.



2 cups store-bought ricotta
1 cup cold heavy cream
⅓ cup sugar
2 tbsp. instant espresso
1 tbsp. powdered gelatin
Shaved chocolate


1. Purée ricotta in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

2. Whip together heavy cream and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.

3. Bring ¼ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Whisk 2 tbsp. of the water with espresso in a small bowl. Whisk remaining water with gelatin in another small bowl until dissolved.

4. Stir espresso mixture into ricotta, then gelatin mixture; fold in cream in 3 stages. Chill mixture for 1 hour, then transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe mixture into 6 sundae glasses; refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

See more: 9 Luxurious Mousse Recipes

Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops

Made with only 4 ingredients, this summery treat is full of bright strawberry flavor. 



1 lb. hulled strawberries
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice


1. Purée strawberries in a blender. Set a fine strainer over a bowl; strain strawberry purée, discarding solids. Whisk in sugar, heavy cream, and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Pour strawberry mixture into four 3–oz. ice-pop molds (go to www.centralchef.com for a source).

2. Transfer molds to the freezer and freeze until slushy, about 1 hour. Insert a Popsicle stick into each mold and freeze until pops are solid, about 3 hours more. To release ice pops from molds, run the bottom of the molds briefly under warm water.