Tag Archives: no bake

Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn BallsIf you’ve been around here a while, you know I loathe Halloween. Biggest Halloween Scrooge there is, right here.

That said, I might do an about-face soon because I finally tried a popcorn ball at the ripe old age of 34 and I loved it. Loved. It. Sweet, airy and studded with candy, it may well make a Halloween-lover out of me! Who knows? It could change the course of my life!

(Feeling dramatic today. Sorry, not sorry.)Easy Popcorn BallsBut seriously, I have no idea why I had never had a popcorn ball before a few weeks ago. Maybe it’s a northern thing? Do Texans just not make popcorn balls? Do I secretly love Halloween? Is my entire life a lie???Easy Popcorn Balls…whatever it is, I am now firmly in support of all things Halloween as they relate specifically to spherical sticky-sweet popcorn. And also candy corn. But nothing else, okay? Okay.Easy Popcorn BallsLots of popcorn ball recipes are molten sugar or caramel-based and require a candy thermometer, but I went in a different, easier direction, using Rice Krispies Treats as a guide. Butter and marshmallows are melted together and flavored with a little salt before 10 cups of plain popcorn are folded in. I like to add mix-ins for flavor/textural diversity, but feel free to leave ‘em out if they’re not your thing. I love (!) the sweet/salty candy corn and pretzel combo I used in this batch, but if those flavors aren’t your bag, don’t fret! I’ve written a list of alternatives in the recipe. You can use pretty much whatever you want, except for un-coated chocolate (it’ll melt).Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn BallsOnce the mixture is to your liking, let it cool for about 5 minutes, just until you can handle it. Then butter your hands and press heaping 1/2 cups of sticky popcorn into balls and set them on a piece of parchment. After that’s done…well, you’re done. Except for the part where you watch the World Series and eat crunchy, just barely gooey, candy corn & pretzel-studded popcorn balls and call it Halloween. Or maybe that’s just me.Easy Popcorn Balls

Easy Popcorn Balls
makes about 14 balls

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows (about 6 cups)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
10 cups plain popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup candy corn
1 cup broken pretzel pieces

Alternative mix-in ideas (use 2 cups total):
M&Ms
Reese’s Pieces
salted peanuts
chopped Twizzlers
broken Oreos
sweet cereal of choice

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

Melt butter a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and all and stir until smooth. Carefully fold in popcorn. Remove from heat. Fold in candy corn and pretzels, or other desired mix-ins. Let mixture cool 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle but still pliable.

Grease your hands and a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Use the measuring cup to scoop heaping 1/2 cups of the popcorn mixture. Coax it out of the cup by inverting/using your fingers and then use your hands to firmly press the popcorn mixture into a ball. Place the popcorn ball on the prepared pan. Continue, working quickly, until all popcorn mixture is used. Let popcorn balls cool until set.

Popcorn balls are best the day they are made, but may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you are concerned about them sticking together, you can wrap each in plastic wrap.Easy Popcorn BallsEasy Popcorn Balls

Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Sometimes it takes years of thinking and testing and cursing and problem-solving—or, to be brief, “general creative agony”—to formulate a recipe. Other times, the recipe comes up and metaphorically slaps you in your dessert-obsessed face.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}You can guess which sort of recipe this Chocolate Mousse Pie is.

(It’s the second one.)Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Y’all! How did I not make a Chocolate Mousse Pie sooner? How did it never cross my mind? I’ve had a magnificent Chocolate Mousse Cake in my recipe index for two years and a no-bake Oreo pie crust in there for a year and a half, and yet combining them never even occurred to me until a couple of weeks ago. Not even a fleeting thought!

Just…WHAT?! Who am I? What day is it? Who’s running this thing?Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}This is exactly the sort of recipe I love to have in my back pocket. It’s super simple to make and a universal crowd-pleaser. Who can resist fluffy homemade chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and Oreo crumb crust? Not this baker.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}…or should I say “no”-baker? This is a no-bake pie, after all! There are a couple of chilling steps in the recipe, but no need to crank up your oven. I’ve got a few pies coming your way in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking for one that won’t take up valuable holiday oven space, this is it.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}But! But. It’s not even Halloween yet, so maybe let’s keep the discussion of oven space off the table for like…twelve more days. Until then though, let’s talk creamy, wonderful Chocolate Mousse Pie, or better yet, eat it.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}
makes one 9-inch pie

Crust:
25 whole Oreos
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mousse:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
3 tablespoons hot tap water
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Whipped Cream & Garnish:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
chocolate curls, for garnish (optional)

This recipe requires a 3 hour chill to set the mousse. Plan accordingly.

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set.

Make the mousse. In a double boiler or the microwave, melt dark chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot tap water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Transfer melted chocolate to a medium-large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the cocoa powder mixture and 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate until no white streaks remain.

Pile the mousse into the crust. Spread it into an even layer and tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any large air bubbles. Gently press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface of the mousse. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove pie from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while you make the whipped cream.

Combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip the mixture on low for 30 seconds before whipping on high for 1-2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

Pile whipped cream onto the cake before spreading it into an even layer. Use a knife dipped in warm water to smooth the outer edge of the cake. Garnish with chocolate curls, if desired.

Serve pie immediately or refrigerate. For clean slices, dip the knife in warm water and wipe dry between cuts.Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}Chocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

Mango Granita

Mango GranitaI first came across a granita recipe in the summer of 2009 and thought “That looks easy and delicious. I’m going to make that.” And then ten years passed.

But I did make granita, and it was/is easy and delicious, and now I’m here to tell you to do the same. Maybe skip the ten years of procrastination though.Mango GranitaMango GranitaIf you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, granita is a semi-frozen Sicilian dessert–basically a classy snow cone. The texture is fluffy and snowy, but instead of being ice flavored with brightly-colored syrup, it’s made from real fruit with very limited added sugar, and you don’t need a special machine to make it.Mango GranitaTo make this Mango Granita, you’ll need:

  • a few pounds of fresh mango. You could probably use thawed frozen if that’s all you can find.
  • lime juice for brightness. Lime and mango are great together.
  • the tiniest amount of sugar to round things out. Yes, ripe mango is already very sweet, but cold temperatures mean that flavor doesn’t always shine through the way it does at room temperature. I like to add two tablespoons of sugar to the entire recipe. That small amount makes a big difference!
  • a pinch of salt for balance. You can leave this out if you want to, but salt is rarely a bad idea.
  • a blender (or food processor), a dish, a fork, and time.

Mango GranitaMango GranitaThe process is simple. Blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour the purée into a large dish and put it in the freezer for an hour.Mango GranitaWhen that time is up, remove the dish from the freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to drag the frozen purée into the looser center. This will begin the process of making fluffy, snowy ice crystals. At first, you may feel like you’re dragging a fork through soup, but an hour later, it’ll be a different story.Mango GranitaAnd then, thirty more minutes will go by and crystals will really begin to form! The grainy texture is the “gran-” in granita.Mango GranitaYou’ll know it’s ready when it looks like this:Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita is as delicious as it is beautiful—light and refreshing and perfect for these sweltering last few weeks of summer! The texture is somewhere between a snow cone and a sorbet. Where you might think this would be icy, it’s super smooth and surprisingly creamy. This is the sort of dessert that is great for any occasion from watching Netflix in your PJs to a cookout to a dinner party. It’s vegan, nut-free, low calorie and low sugar–a wonderful option for a crowd!Mango GranitaMango GranitaBefore I get to the recipe, here are a few more tips for granita success:

  • use the largest dish you can. The shallower the layer of purée, the faster it will freeze.
  • you can use any fruit you like! I love mango, but peaches, melon or berries would be magnificent here!
  • make granita on a day you’ll be spending a lot of time at home. This recipe is low maintenance, but the ice crystals need to be scraped every hour at first and then every half-hour. Give ‘em one final scrape before serving.
  • for the love of everything, don’t wait ten years to make this. Ideally, you should make Mango Granita as soon as possible. Like tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, y’all!Mango Granita

Mango Granita
makes about a quart

3 large ripe mangoes (about 3 pounds), pits & skin removed, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Combine mango, lime juice, sugar and salt in a high-powered blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large shallow dish (I used a 9×13-inch casserole). Freeze for 60 minutes.

Remove cold mixture from freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to scrape/drag the icier edges of the mixture into the center of the dish. Mixture will still be quite loose. Return dish to the freezer for 45-60 minutes before repeating scraping. Continue to scrape every 30 minutes for the next 1-2 hours, or until the texture is fluffy and snow-like.

Freeze until ready to serve. Give one last scrape before serving in small bowls.

Leftover granita will keep in the freezer for about a week. Scrape before serving.Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch SauceIt seems like every time I think a recipe is going to be a snap, it’s a total nightmare. Butterscotch Sauce is a classic example of this—I went into testing thinking this would be a one-and-done situation, but instead I made sauces that:

  • separated in seconds.
  • required a candy thermometer.
  • burned.
  • crystallized.
  • hardened immediately upon hitting ice cream.Butterscotch Sauce

Testing was a bummer, to say the least. I mean, all I really wanted was a blog recipe that would also allow me to have ice cream with buttery brown sugar sauce for lunch and call it work. Is that too much to ask?!Butterscotch SauceTurns out it’s not. I “fixed” my first five test batches by slapping a metaphorical culinary bandaid on each one (less butter, less complication, less time, less movement, more liquid), and this all led me back to a method I knew worked: the way I make the caramel for my caramel corn, which is literally the easiest molten sugar recipe of all time. Just put it all in a pot and leave it alone.Butterscotch SauceButterscotch SauceHere’s the gist of my Butterscotch Sauce recipe:

  • put dark brown sugar, butter, salt and heavy cream in a pot and don’t stir it.
  • bring it to a boil and don’t stir it.
  • cook it for five minutes and don’t stir it. Just don’t do it.
  • remove it from the heat, add some vanilla and…okay, stir it now.

That’s it. Wait a few minutes before spooning it over a scoop of ice cream so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth. Safety first.Butterscotch SauceThis sauce is thick and golden and best served piping hot, so that it will set softly on whatever delicious thing over which it’s been poured. It’s rich, buttery and has good hits of salt and vanilla to complement its brown sugar flavor. And it’s easy to make.Butterscotch SauceYou might even say it’s a snap.Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Without stirring or jostling, combine dark brown sugar, butter, salt, and heavy cream in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving hot over ice cream. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for at least a week.

The best way to reheat this sauce is by putting it in a pot over medium-low heat and stirring just until heated through. Butterscotch may also be warmed in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between, until hot.

Butterscotch SauceButterscotch Sauce

Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores

Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresIs there any food that celebrates summer quite like a s’more? I don’t think so. I mean, it’s pretty difficult to argue with the near-perfect combination of graham cracker, melty toasted marshmallow, and chocolate on a searing hot day…Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores…but I’m going to anyway because of course I am. I like to occasionally dabble in the contrarian arts, and nothing on this blog screams “I do what I want!” louder than today’s Lemon Meringue S’mores!Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresYes, Lemon Meringue S’mores. As in, graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, and lemon curd. As in, a six—er, four—bite summertime treat that tastes just like Lemon Meringue Pie, but is about 1% of the work, permitting that you’ve already made the lemon curd. If you haven’t made it, that number goes up to a whopping 3%.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresYou see, the lemon curd I use for Lemon Meringue S’mores isn’t just any lemon curd, y’all. It’s Lazy Lemon Curd. I mean, you’ll be hard-presses to find a citrus curd recipe that is particularly challenging, but this is one for the days when you reeeeeally don’t want to whisk something continuously or add butter bit-by-bit or strain anything.*

*I hate straining things. Hate. It. Not as much as I hate cleaning muffin pans, but almost. So, if I tell you to strain something, it means it really needs to be done. Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresThis is an easy three-ingredient, two-step recipe. Whisk together some fresh lemon juice, two egg yolks and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Heat that mixture over a double boiler, stirring if/when you think about it, until it thickens slightly, which takes fifteen minutes. That’s literally it.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresIf this recipe looks familiar, that’s because it is. Lazy Lemon Curd is just a sunny lemon spin on the filling for my Key Lime Linzer Cookies, and that is just a stovetop version of Key Lime Pie filling. It’s also the combination I use in my easy Pink Lemonade Bars. Sweetened condensed milk, y’all—it’s the unsung hero of my kitchen.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresOnce your Lazy Lemon Curd has cooled a bit, make yourself some s’mores! Slather a little of the curd on a graham cracker, top it with a toasted marshmallow and sandwich it all with another graham cracker. And then repeat that process because you’re going to want two of these toasty, gooey, lemony treats. And because this stuff keeps well in the fridge, you can make Lemon Meringue S’mores all summer long. That’s something worth celebrating.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores

Lazy Lemon Curd
makes about 1 1/2 cups

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3-4 lemons)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks, room temperature

Make the filling. Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer filling to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.

Lemon Meringue S’mores
makes 4 s’mores

4 whole sheets honey graham crackers
2 tablespoons Lazy Lemon Curd
4 large marshmallows

Carefully break each graham cracker sheet in half to produce 2 squares (8 squares total). Place bottom-side-up on a surface.

Top 4 of the graham squares with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) each of the Lazy Lemon Curd.

Toast the marshmallows. Place each marshmallow on a skewer. Turn a gas stove flame (or other heat source) to medium-low. Carefully toast marshmallow over the top before transferring it onto lemon curd. Repeat with other marshmallows. Turn off stove. If you’d like to toast your marshmallows with another at-home method, see here.

Top marshmallows with the remaining graham squares, top-side-up. Serve immediately.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores