[Disclosure: I know Faith IRL, as the kids say, and I've written for/been featured on The Kitchn a few times, but that doesn't make me love no-bake desserts any more than I already do. As if that were possible.]
As Faith writes in her introduction, “‘Pudding? I love pudding!’ . . . People have nostalgic and happy memories of pudding, whether it came in a Snack Pack cup or out of their grandmother’s copper saucepan.” And there are a considerable number of pages devoted to puddings, custards, trifles, and mousses in Bakeless Sweets, with a fun and helpful list of ways to combine recipes into showstopping parfaits (like a Salted Peppermint Patty with peppermint-cocoa pudding and rich vanilla pudding layered with crushed pretzels and peppermint candies).
But the pudding passion just scratches the surface in this book. Flipping through the pages and gazing upon the delectable photographs, it’s a revelation to realize how many kinds of recipes fall under the category of no-bake desserts, like marshmallowy stir-press-and-slice bars. The most famous of this style, of course, is Rice Krispie Treats, but Faith’s gooey, salty chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars amp up everything good about this famous dessert.
And since one of our unofficial family mottos is “there’s always room for jello,” I’m particularly pleased by the fruit jellies chapter, which eschews basic boxed flavors like cherry and strawberry for fresher, tangier tastes like Champagne with raspberries and watermelon-lime jelly. Those of you whose grandmothers suspended fruit slices into your jello cups as a kid will have a field day with the inside-out versions of this childhood favorite: oranges and papayas, hollowed out and filled with fruit-studded jello.
Faith and I share a weakness for both lemon desserts and those of the peanut butter-chocolate persuasion. As an Ohio native, she gives multiple shoutouts in Bakeless Sweets to the particularly satisfying confection known as a Buckeye—essentially a sugary peanut butter truffle wrapped in chocolate coating. This combination pops up in the pretzel bars (shown above), as a chilled pie, and as a peanut butter-honey pudding drizzled with chocolate ganache.
Given this common love for the choco-pb combo and our mutual soft spot for nostalgic desserts, I decided to take the retro theme one step further and give a Bakeless Sweets dessert a Classic Snacks Made from Scratch twist. Buckeye Pudding Pops are filled with Faith’s peanut butter-honey pudding, then covered in homemade chocolate magic shell. So frosty when you eat ‘em straight from the freezer on a 90-degree, 80-percent humidity day (I wish I were exaggerating), they’re at once familiar and unexpected. The creamy peanut butter center and crispy chocolate coating are all Buckeye, but the cool texture makes you stop with surprise.
Don’t worry, lemon and sour cream custard, lemon-basil jelly, and no-bake Meyer lemon bars. I’m coming for you next. But for now, I’m giving away one copy of Bakeless Sweets—enter below.
Buckeye Pudding Pops
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 7 hours, 30 minutes, including overnight chill time
Makes 8 ice cream pops
Special Equipment: 8 4-oz. popsicle molds (I like Tovolo’s star molds and rocket pop molds), pastry bag and large round piping tip or gallon-size zip-top bag
Peanut Butter-Honey Pudding
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup (3 oz.) honey
- 1/4 cup (1 7/8 oz.) packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 3/4 oz.) natural creamy peanut butter, well stirred to incorporate any oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
adapted from Bakeless Sweets by Faith Durand
Homemade Magic Shell
- 3 3/4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) solid coconut oil
- 8 ounces (a scant 2/3 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 ounces (a scant 1/3 cup) milk chocolate, chopped
adapted from Classic Snacks Made from Scratch by Casey Barber
Make the pudding pops:
Whisk the cornstarch and salt together in a large bowl, making sure to whisk out any errant lumps of cornstarch. Slowly whisk the cream into the cornstarch in a steady stream, making sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated and dissolved, then whisk in the egg yolks.
Whisk the milk, honey, and sugar together in a 2-quart high-sided saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and is no longer granular. Continue to whisk frequently until bubbles form around the edge of the pan and the milk starts to steam.
Pour the milk into a large liquid measuring cup and slowly drizzle the milk into the reserved cornstarch and egg, whisking constantly to incorporate the milk. You should have a smooth, thick custard base with no lumps.
Return the custard base to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the custard comes to a boil and thickens. Cook the pudding for 2 minutes more, then remove from the heat.
Gently stir the peanut butter and the vanilla into the pudding.
Transfer the pudding to a large zip-top bag or pastry bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Be careful—the pudding will be hot, not to mention you’ll be tempted to eat the whole thing right then and there.
Snip a corner off the zip-top bag, if using, and pipe the pudding into the popsicle molds. Gently bang the popsicle molds on the counter to make sure no air bubbles remain in the pudding. Freeze the pops for at least 6 hours or overnight.
(If you only have 6 popsicle molds, don’t feel compelled to buy another set to use up all the pudding. Just chill the leftover pudding overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning—it’s got peanut butter, milk, and honey in it; it’s good for you!)
Make the magic shell:
Heat the coconut oil in a 2-quart high-sided saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Add the chocolate and stir constantly until melted, taking the pan on and off the heat as necessary to monitor the temperature and make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn. (The residual heat in the chocolate will help it continue to melt even when off heat.)
Let the melted chocolate cool slightly; it should still be warm and liquid, but not molten enough so it melts the pudding pop on contact.
Assemble the pops:
One at a time, remove the pops from their plastic molds by running the mold under warm water until it loosens enough to pull off.
Hold the pop upside-down by the handle and “paint” magic shell down the sides of the pop with a mini rubber spatula or offset spatula. The magic shell will harden as it cools, so work quickly to cover the pop completely.
Return the pop to the freezer for at least 15 minutes to make sure it hardens completely. The pops can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Pour the leftover magic shell into a heatproof mason jar and store in the refrigerator pretty much indefinitely (I’ve had some in there for more than a year, and it still works like a charm). To reheat, bring the jar to room temperature, then scrape the magic shell out of the jar and back into a saucepan, stirring gently over low heat until liquefied.