In search of baked goods that don't need baking
August 31, 2015 10:02 AM   Subscribe

After a ludicrously protracted search, I've bought a house, and I'm moving soon. Hooray! But the kitchen is long past its prime, and in particular, the built-in oven looks to be pretty awful. Dealing with that is high on the priority list, but other things are higher, and realistically I doubt I'll be able to get to it before next year. And that's rather a shame, because I enjoy baking, and enjoy bringing the results to work for colleagues to devour. So, please help keep me sane by suggesting your favourite non-baked baked goods.

Things I have:

- a reasonably large microwave
- a gas hob (the kitchen's not all bad!)
- a not-very-good breadmaker - if people have fantastic breadmaker recipes, I might upgrade
- a very small fridge (and similarly small freezer)
- 30 hungry sweet-toothed colleagues.

Things I do not have:

- an oven I'd enjoy using. (Yes, I'll probably give it a go, and maybe it'll surprise me! Still, can't hurt to have some non-oven recipes up my sleeve.)

I have an excellent go-to recipe for Welsh cakes, but the other things I routinely make all need the oven - chocolate chip cookies, marmalade loaf cake, banana bread, brownies, tea loaf and so on. I'm sorted for microwave mug cakes for my own personal consumption, so I'm mostly looking for things I can make in the evening to take to work the next day on the train. Any recommendations?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature to Food & Drink (49 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Fruit jellies?
posted by mumimor at 10:04 AM on August 31, 2015

Mmmm... haystack cookies are the best. Unbaked Chocolate Haystacks

This recipe looks close to the one I usually use.
posted by valoius at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Peanut brittle!
posted by kat518 at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chocolate mousse? (need a mixer or a strong arm though to whip the cream)
crepes & crepe cakes? (basically crepes layered with either savory or sweet fillings)

and the god awful blasphemy that is mug cake
posted by larthegreat at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2015

There's the classic stovetop chocolate oatmeal cookies, and its buddy, peanut butter bars, which are both nearly candy.
If you don't trust turning on the oven at all i.e. fire safety, then ignore the following, but if you're just concerned that it will be unreliable, uneven, and a huge hassle to work with, try overnight cookies, meringues for which you heat up the oven, then turn it off when you put the cookies in, and just let it coast back to room temp, which is great for imprecise ovens.
posted by aimedwander at 10:10 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cereal treat bars? I'm being generic since 1) you're in the UK and 2) I prefer the ones we make that aren't Rice Krispie Treats. We've found that you can make them with pretty much any crispy cereal (the fruity "berry" ones were a huge hit). An alternative we've found to also be popular includes peanut butter, and I always throw in a handful of mini chocolate chips as well.
posted by librarianamy at 10:11 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have an upright mixer? I always recommend marshmallows.

In fact, if you're not married to "baked good" candy making it where it's at. Caramels are always a hit and you'll just need to invest in a candy thermometer. I also like making brittles, and toffee. You might also try making fancy rice crispy treats.

But if you're dead set on something more traditionally cookie-ish try Buckeyes

Also, if you decide to get into candy making feel free to memail me! I love talking about it and every one I know is tired of hearing!
posted by Saminal at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely get into candymaking! This book is a good intro. "All of your favorites are here- luscious caramels, tender brittles, marshmallows, divinity, lollipops, caramel corn, toffees, cherry cordials, truffles and fudges."
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:14 AM on August 31, 2015

You might find my previous Ask helpful!

The no-bake, don't-call-them-Reese's bars were great.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

In your place, I'd get a tabletop oven to tide me over. Heck, you can bake a pie in a regular $30 toaster oven (check pie plate diameter in advance). I grant you the temperature control may not be excellent, but it will cook a lot of things just fine.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:19 AM on August 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Rice pudding!
posted by henuani at 10:21 AM on August 31, 2015

Toaster ovens are great. You can use it, even when your oven is working, and consume much less energy.

With a toaster oven, you can make tiny batches of tiny cookies. Tiny cookies are great! Your co-workers and friends can eat them relatively guilt-free, and you won't have to worry about leftovers as much. Tiny cookies are dainty jewels of delectableness. They are never shoveled in as filler; they are meant to be appreciated individually, enjoyed fully for themselves.
posted by amtho at 10:22 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I highly recommend Breville toaster ovens with actual oven settings. A little hotter and quicker than a wall built oven but I like mine just fine. Make a routine of hitting Bed Bath and Beyond; they'll sell display models or boxes of perfectly new but packing-material-damaged units on clearance and you can use a 20% coupon (even expired ones).

Another thought might be to invest in a good crock pot and internet search on "bake in a crock pot" treats, like these brownies.
posted by tilde at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2015

Aha, I knew I'd leave out some relevant things! I am in the UK. I have a sugar thermometer, a Kenwood Chef mixer, and plenty of experience of converting US measures and ingredients. And the concern about the oven is indeed just that it'll be unreliable, uneven, and a huge hassle to work with; I'm sure it's safe, it's just that it's 15 years old and the temperature dial has almost no markings on it. I should probably get an oven thermometer if it looks as if I'll be stuck with it for a while.

Please keep the suggestions coming - these are great; I've half a dozen new recipes bookmarked already!

*wanders off to research toaster ovens*
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2015

Take your preferred chocolate chip cookie recipe, substitute Greek yogurt for the egg, roll the dough into balls and refrigerate.
posted by clavicle at 10:41 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, just get a new knob (or make markings on the current knob) and an oven thermometer and you'll be most of the way there. There could still be larger-than-ideal swings in temperature, but I have made lovely things in shitty, shitty ovens. Maybe stay away from, like, souffles and things.

Crumbles, grunts, crisps, cobblers, and brown betties are especially forgiving. You can even pre-cook the filling before you put on the crisp topping, so that you really just need to broil it to cook the topping.

On the unbaked front, though: you can also just make cookie dough and eat it, such a treat. Shortbread dough with lots of butter is great (and generally has no eggs, if that worries you).
posted by mskyle at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2015

Before you completely give up on the oven... to check how evenly it heats, you can make a toast map of your oven. That and a $5 thermometer will let you know if it's worth buying a toaster oven.

Bonus, toast.

Markings might have worn off because it's a super awesome oven that was used repeatedly, and a sharpie and cheap thermometer can fix that for you...
posted by larthegreat at 10:46 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Waffle maker? Sweet waffles served with some toppings. Brownies and cookies can be waffled among other things.
posted by RoadScholar at 10:53 AM on August 31, 2015

Sweet steamed buns? (bao) Here's a recipe, but there are plenty of others around.
posted by corvine at 11:17 AM on August 31, 2015

For most of this spring I was addicted to something called "diaboltins", which ostensibly were a popular sweet in Colonial America - and are as easy as anything to make.

Using USA measurements, all you need is:

16 ounces dark chocolate
8 ounces slivered almonds
4 ounces chopped dried cranberries
4 ounces minced candied ginger.

Melt the chocolate, and then stir in the almonds, cranberries and ginger. Mix it all up good and then drop spoonfulls onto a piece of parchment paper and let cool and set. Your'e done.

You can also change what kind of nut or dried fruit you use, omit the ginger and double the dried fruit so it's 8 ounces, etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on August 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

As a tangential answer to the question, I have one of these countertop ovens - the very first model to come out probably 15 years ago. I wouldn't be without it. Mine is so old it isn't even halogen and it works great.

It's fantastic. I've baked cakes in mine lots of times with great success. You can see how things are cooking and the circulating heat makes for a very even bake.

(It's also great for meals where you don't want/need to use the whole oven. You can roast a chicken in it with no problem. And it's extra cooking space at Thanksgiving/Christmas.)
posted by essexjan at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are people on the Internet who want to sell you a replacement oven knob.
posted by amtho at 11:30 AM on August 31, 2015

Sorry, just realised you're in the UK. Here's the UK listing for that convection oven. There are loads on the market, but make sure you get one that has the extender ring.
posted by essexjan at 11:34 AM on August 31, 2015

Nanaimo Bars!
posted by rozee at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Puffed wheat cake. If you can't get puffed wheat or don't do gluten, rice crispies or other puffed grains can be substituted. A Canadian childhood favorite.
posted by lizbunny at 11:50 AM on August 31, 2015

No-bake cheesecake - there are several versions of this online. Very versatile too.

Icebox Cakes - basic version is whipped cream and cookies, layered and refrigerated overnight. Tiramisu is a coffee version with mascarpone cheese and ladyfinger cookies. Generally the cookies absorb the moisture from the cream/cheese and become cake-y. Can make them as big or small as you like.
posted by lizbunny at 12:00 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh! You can make bourbon/rum/brandy balls with "nilla" wafers/shortbread/gingersnaps and walnuts/almonds/pecans/hazelnuts. Here's a basic recipe. You can use it as a jumping off point and add just about any combination you like of cookie crumbs, nuts, spirits and flavorings. Some I've tried:
- orange/almond rum/chocolate
- lemon/grand marnier/shortbread
- bourbon/gingersnap
- chocolate/brandy/hazelnut
posted by annaramma at 12:51 PM on August 31, 2015

Rum balls were a big hit for me in the years when I had a non-working oven.

If you like, you can borrow the story of my Italian aunt, who always brought rum balls to Christmas Eve that were so liquored up we joked that they were "more rum than ball."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:00 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kalter hund! It translates as Cold Dog but is basically butter biscuits set into a mix of chocolate and coconut fat and butter. Leibniz Butter Biscuit are the classic biscuit to use, but you can substitute anything relatively plain. The recipe I linked to is in German but just run the page through google translate and you can figure it out - it's pretty straight forward. It does have raw eggs, in case you're worried about that.
posted by shelleycat at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pizzelles. Yum!
posted by 26.2 at 2:11 PM on August 31, 2015

No recipe but an ex used to make a no-bake mixed berry tarte: graham cracker crust, mixed berries/berry compote, thick whipped cream.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2015

Summer pudding! I don't have a good recipe for it, but I love it and would be thrilled if a co-worker brought one in.
posted by snaw at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2015

Also, daifuku (again with the suggestion but no recipe because it calls for a microwave and I don't have one).
posted by snaw at 2:36 PM on August 31, 2015

Someone on my friends list recently posted this recipe for no-bake vegan lemon-lime meltaways, which look pretty good.

Whilst looking around, I searched "no-bake meltaway cookies" and found they are pretty darned common.
posted by blurker at 3:22 PM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chocolate crackles are delicious.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:38 PM on August 31, 2015

What about an Aussie classic - pikelets? Sort of a cross between a flapjack and a blini, you fry them in a pan and top them like scones (proper English scones that is - not the hideous American monstrosities).
posted by ninazer0 at 3:45 PM on August 31, 2015

Haystacks, eh? Never heard them called that before but as a chocolate macaroon (nothing like the French macarons) it was the first thing I ever learned to cook (followed by tacos).

A healthier hippie option could be Essene bread.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:20 PM on August 31, 2015

Chocolate-covered popcorn.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:28 PM on August 31, 2015

Get yourself a nice sized toaster oven. You'd be surprised at what you can do with one. I used one during a kitchen remodel and actually cooked pretty decent meals with it.
posted by OkTwigs at 6:00 PM on August 31, 2015

Creme caramel? Buy a flan and put strawberries and whipped cream on top :)
posted by treadstone11 at 6:03 PM on August 31, 2015

You can cook cakes & spongy puds like cobblers just fine in a microwave, you just need to be aware of:

1) Things will cook much faster
2) Don't check for 'doneness' by looking for browning
3) Don't cook stuff that relies on a baked crust.

Typically I can cook a fruit cobbler in ~8mins in a microwave vs 30-40 mins in the oven. The typical newbie mistake when baking in a microwave is to massively overcook because 'it doesn't look done' & then wonder why stuff comes out like leather.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:28 PM on August 31, 2015

I just made Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats and they were a huge hit.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:38 PM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to second the Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie treats- and I hate regular Rice Krispie treats!
Also, David Leibowitz has a version that are made with white chocolate and candied peanuts that sound awesome.
posted by TenaciousB at 9:05 PM on August 31, 2015

Triple Chocolate Cookie Balls. Crushing the cookies can be tedious if you don't have a food processor, but these are always a hit when I make them.
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can at 12:03 AM on September 1, 2015

No bake lemon pie. Here's one recipe -- there are hundreds out there.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:53 AM on September 1, 2015

Chocolate covered sponge candy would also be great.
posted by snaw at 8:27 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

TOFFEE. Seriously! I am an IDIOT at baking, generally hopeless with sauces, and never made candy before in my life, and yet my first attempt at this was perfection.

All you need is a candy thermometer, a heavy bottom saucepan and some patience. Please heed the first review and cook all the way to 300°/hard crack stage. I don't have a candy thermometer but I just used my eyeballs, my nose and some common sense.

Don't omit the salt, it has some magic chemical property that helps prevent the hot toffee from seizing. I never had this happen but a colleague who is a chemist told me this after I made a huge batch for work last Christmas.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2015

Thanks, everyone! Plenty to try, and I've decided to get a halogen oven to tide me over into the bargain. My colleagues will not be keeling over for want of sugar any time soon.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:13 AM on September 5, 2015

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