Right now is the time of year when I avoid turning the oven on at all costs. So I turned to Faith Durand’s Bakeless Sweets for inspiration and ways to keep on making cool desserts through this end of summer heat.
From the Executive Editor of The Kitchn, Bakeless Sweets covers the range of oven-free delights, from icebox cakes to fluff. The book is beautiful, filled with stunning photography and cleanly written recipes. I love that it covers a range of skill and interests, from homemade instant pudding mix that doesn’t even require heating to gingered brown rice pudding. And there are tons of recommendations, from troubleshooting for using grains to panna cotta parfait ideas. Better yet, one hundred of the recipes are gluten free, and she tried to cover vegan options and substitutions, even in a book mainly about pudding.
For the technical aspects of the book, I’m personally grateful that both US and metric options are written in whenever possible. Some of the recipes call for slightly hard to get ingredients, like amaranth, most recipes involve things you can get easily at supermarkets.
I tested two recipes, the Salted Caramel Risotto and the Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta. The risotto was straightforward to make, though I decided to pour caramel into rice instead of the other way around as was written in the instructions. For the effort of cooking rice and caramel, I was rewarded with a very sweet, strong caramel pudding with chewy pops of rice. I drizzled on 70% Manjari after topping with unsweetened whipped cream. The combination of dark, savory notes made for a lovely, refined dessert.
As for the Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta, it was like eating the smoothest milk chocolate pudding ever, sweet and comforting. The recipe was a breeze to make, and one I’ll be testing with all of my chocolates.
I found that the recipes had points that were distracting to someone who lives in the kitchen. Like the risotto recipe asked to reduce “much of the liquid,” which could mean anything from half to almost all of it. Or the panna cotta started with cooking milk chocolate over direct heat, which goes against all of my experience. I ended up making it in a double boiler, which worked fine. These are issues with interpretation, and don’t change my opinion that these recipes were fun to make. I’d just make sure to read through carefully and confirm that you understand the process before you start.
I will absolutely return to this book, and I’m glad to add it to my summer dessert rotation. Definitely give it a look the next time you’re searching for pudding inspiration.