What to make when supplies are short?
July 10, 2009 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Are there some tasty dessert recipes I can make that don't require baking or any of the things I have trouble getting in Ghana?

I love desserts, and would like to make some for my lovely hosts here in Kumasi. I probably could find some ingredients if I really searched, but I'd prefer to make things using what is readily available. I cannot use an oven or a microwave, but can cook on a stove top.

Things that are available are... oatmeal, sugar, peanut butter, cocoa, margarine, digestive cookies, condensed milk... I also brought with me a few boxes of chocolate instant pudding.

Things that are available, but inconvenient to get are... butter, milk, breakfast cereals (rice krispies, special k), flour (I have about 2 cups).

Things I cannot find are... chocolate chips (though I could get chocolate bars), flavorings like vanilla or almond extract, marshmallows, corn syrup, brown sugar, cream cheese.

I've had some trouble finding recipes on the internet that fit this strange criteria. So far I've made oatmeal no-bake cookies, which I loooove, but I would like to make something different this time. Thank you so much for your ideas and help!
posted by BusyBusyBusy to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a cooktop/hob? A hotplate?
posted by mdonley at 6:17 AM on July 10, 2009

Do you have coffee, and a freezer? With the sweetened condensed milk you could make Vietnamese coffee granita.
posted by cabingirl at 6:38 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Can you get nuts (like walnuts, pecans, something like that)? Baking soda / baking powder? Eggs?

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies spring to mind. Most cookies use eggs. Baking soda/powder and flour commonly go with them.

How about fruits? You could make a kind of crust with the oats or crumbs from the digestive biscuits (like a graham cracker crust), then fill it with something fruity. However, the kind of crust I'm thinking of would be pretty crumbly, so you wouldn't be able to achieve pie wedges, more like a kind of fruit crumble or cobbler.
posted by amtho at 6:47 AM on July 10, 2009

JujuB's chocolate no-bake cookie recipe is very similar to my family's version and uses much of what you listed above. No need to use more than just wax paper, a pan and a spoon, too.
posted by onhazier at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oatmeal, sugar, margarine and flower makes crumble topping -- with any kind of local fruit, you could make crisps in the vein of apple crisp. You'd normally use brown sugar for this, but white will work, it just melts a little less.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:45 AM on July 10, 2009

Some sort of peanut butter playdough, perhaps? You should be able to get corn flour and honey fairly easily at the market. Did you bring some Western peanut butter with you, or are you just talking about groundnut paste? If it's the latter, you'd probably want to add some sugar as well.
posted by bassooner at 8:22 AM on July 10, 2009

How about using a dutch oven to bake some chocolate chip cookie dough? Ghana chocolate is very good and making chocolate chips from bar chocolate is as simple as slicing and dicing.
posted by JJ86 at 8:37 AM on July 10, 2009

Crisps would be great except that she doesn't have access to an oven.

The pudding mixes combined with condensed milk would probably make a luxurious pudding. I wonder if you mushed up the margarine with some of the oatmeal and crushed-up cookies, maybe it would make granola-like chunks that you could toast in a pan and layer with the pudding, parfait-style.
posted by lakeroon at 8:40 AM on July 10, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, to clarify: I have eggs, a freezer, and a stove top. The only nuts I've been able to find are peanuts. All of these suggestions sound great so far! Keep 'em coming!
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 9:12 AM on July 10, 2009

How about zabaglione? The simplest zabaglione recipes involve just egg yolks, sugar and white wine and are prepared entirely on the stovetop, and I think the white wine can be replaced with grape juice or whatever flavorful liquid you have on hand. Variations on mousse and custard could be a good starting point in general--here's a flan recipe that uses condensed and evaporated milk and is entirely stovetop-based. It does call for brown sugar, but I imagine you could replace it with regular sugar and caramelize it to add flavor.
posted by fermion at 9:45 AM on July 10, 2009

Some sort of fruit compote would work, depending on the fruit available.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:06 AM on July 10, 2009

posted by rhizome at 10:21 AM on July 10, 2009

What about poached fruit, using honey or sugar and some sort liquid (or alcohol/liqueur)? You could serve with some sort of creamy sauce, even warmed condensed milk would be delicious.
posted by nonmerci at 11:42 AM on July 10, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies are ridiculously simple- mix together a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar, and an egg, then bake. To make them look like "real" peanut butter cookies, roll into balls before baking and create the criss-cross with a fork (or similar) dipped in sugar. I've also successfully added oatmeal, chocolate chips, and other cookie additions with no problem.
posted by kro at 3:53 PM on July 10, 2009

Oh wow, never mind...for some reason I thought you said you did have access to an oven but not a stovetop. In that case, you can make a few different kinds of no-bake pie crusts with whatever you have on hand and butter...corn flakes, nilla wafers, oreos, and graham crackers are the first that spring to mind. Here's an easy cornflake pie crust recipe...believe it or not, it's not that bad. I've made them into pudding pies (instant chocolate pudding) and fruit pies where I cooked the fruit down in a little sugar on the stove top first before adding it to the pie. Searching for "no bake pie crusts" should bring up a few different options for you.
posted by kro at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2009

You could make these chocolate peanut butter bars if you have powdered sugar or could pulverize some using a coffee grinder or blender. You could substitute margarine for butter, digestive biscuits for graham crackers, and chopped-up chocolate for chocolate chips. I make these according to the recipe - they're quite tasty - and I'd say if you could get the butter it'd be tastier than margarine, but otherwise it's quite a sturdy recipe and the substitutions wouldn't be an issue.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:15 PM on July 10, 2009

A bit off topic but there is a large western style grocery store in Accra, not far from Osu Market, that carries a lot of western food- US as well as European. I know I saw creme cheese there - it was very expensive but there it was. I don't have the precise location (I was visiting) but I think if you ask, people will know what you are talking about.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:30 PM on July 10, 2009

This may sound bitchy, but isn't intended to be: why not ask locals what kinds of desserts they make? (I'm guessing from the tone that you're not from Ghana). Presuming that's the case.. you're in a foreign country, with its own cultural heritage, why not learn something about it?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:08 PM on July 10, 2009

Response by poster: @dirtynumbangelboy: I see your point about local desserts, but they're not much into them aside from fruit juice, fresh fruit, and the occasional ice cream treat. They're interested in trying American desserts, so I'd like to make for them what I'm able. Thanks for your concern.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:12 AM on July 11, 2009

Cool beans. In that case...


Custard is easy to make (and I assume if you can access milk, you can access cream?), all you need to do is buy any sort of vaguely spongy cake, add fruit compote.. done!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:09 PM on July 11, 2009

You can get some of the things you've discounted (vanilla, brown sugar) at Apoku Trading, across from the post office. If you can get cornstarch there (I never checked), you could make the lemon part of Lemon meringue pie, which should set reasonably well even without baking.

How about desert crepes? You can get everything you need for the batter, and then use local fruit for toppings (my favourite topping is white sugar and lemon juice, both easily available).

With some brown sugar and a little alcohol (if your hosts are willing to eat something with alcohol), you can make fried bananas (here's a recipe, although I use butter instead of olive oil, and alcohol like brandy instead of vanilla).
posted by carmen at 4:48 PM on July 11, 2009

did anyone say sorbet yet? especially with those yummy yummy oranges.
also, peanut butter cups. but, this peanut butter and chocolate combination is not popular in many places, so it may be a totally new experience there.
seconding caramel, though it could be tough because sugar is very temperature and humidity sensitive to work with.
(I used to work in Accra, and in the end, found people were often willing to try new things but often only once!)
posted by whatzit at 12:06 AM on July 12, 2009

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