Just Summer Desserts: Easy Edition

Maybe it’s the heat, but there’s something about summer that creates a loose atmosphere. Things move more slowly, and everything feels washed in gold and warmth. It’s lovely, completely lovely. And the desserts of summer echo this slow, loose feeling ““ there are so many ways to hit the sweet tooth with minimal effort.

Pies will get their own post(s). Same with cobbler and ice cream. This post is dedicated to the absolute easiest summertime snacks. And as a bonus ““ all of these taste better cool. Man, I love the word “ice box.” All of these taste better straight from the ice box, or cooler, or fridge. And when the temperature climbs into the triple digits, having a cool, sweet treat is pure heaven.

There are three big snacks that remind me of childhood, drip with nostalgic Americana (you know, nostalgia for images and myths, completely divorced from the reality of the past), and fit the summer bill: puppy mix AKA puppy chex, Rice Krispie treats, and sliced watermelon. I’m feeling more carefree already ““ and where did that tire swing come from?

Sliced watermelon doesn’t have a recipe, but it has tips! Tips like cool the slices down before eating, if that’s your thing. Or, use large, hefty knives to cut this well-protected fruit ““ but use them carefully! Don’t lose a finger: we don’t have universal healthcare yet. Some people like a little salt on their watermelon, so try that out and see how it goes. I am”¦ on the fence on that one.

But I’m not on the fence about watermelon. It’s mostly water (oh, that reminds me of another tip: don’t eat half a watermelon in one sitting due to a PMS induced eating frenzy ““ you will wake up every hour on the hour to pee and that is no fun). It’s sweet. It has seeds you can spit out, or swallow if you want to freak out a small child by telling them that now a watermelon will grow inside you.

Rice Krispie Treats, or, Puffed Rice Treats, if you don’t want to get all brand name about it, are sticky, sweet, and the littlest bit crunchy. And they taste great cooled, too! It’s the ultimate in easy, and reminds me a little of the pseudo-homemade craze that defines some aspects of the American culinary tradition. It also reminds me of the 4th of July, wholesome fun, and puppies drinking from garden hoses. Marshmallow isn’t the only thing dripping off these babies ““ there’s a healthy dose of nostalgia there, too.  The recipe:

3 tablespoons of butter or margarine

10 oz of regular marshmallows OR FOR VEGANS 1 container of Ricemallow

6 cups of puffed rice cereal.

Melt the butter or margarine slowly. I like going old school stove top. Mix in the marshmallows or Ricemallow and when the concoction is nice and liquidy/sticky, add the cereal, slowly. Mix it all up until all the cereal is evenly coated. Then, carefully spread that into a wax-paper lined 13×9 inch pan. Let it set ““ I pop it in the fridge at some point, but that’s not crucial. I just like things cold.

And finally, the last easy summer dessert ““ puppy chex! It’s really called puppy chow or puppy mix, but if you smash all that together and recognize that the most commonly used cereal brand in this recipe is Chex, puppy chex just makes a lot of sense as a name. Minus the “puppy” part ““ this is not good food for dogs.

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup peanut butter (probably creamy is best for this)

1 bag of chocolate chips

9 cups of Chex or a similar, cereal.

Confectioner’s sugar

Melt the butter/margarine, peanut butter, and chocolate chips together in a pot on the stovetop. Mix all the while, and be careful not to burn anything (including your body ““ this is a lesson I learned the hard way). When everything is all melty, pour it over the cereal. OK, so here is what I like to do: first, I put it all in a sealed container (some people prefer paper bags, by the by) and then second, I like to shake the thing violently until everything is coated. I jump around and yell and get really into the coating process. It’s really fun ““ if you put on music, it’s like a dance party that ends in chocolate.

When things look good/my arms get tired, I check the cereal, and then add confectioner’s sugar while the mixture is still warm. I can’t tell you how much to add ““ this is a point of contention for me because I like a little less sugar than others. I certainly wouldn’t add a whole bag. If you add bit by bit, you’ll see what the right amount of sugar is for you.

So there it is ““ three easy summer desserts. Enjoy!


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