Photo courtesy of Stacy Newgent

Making dessert for a Fourth of July party can be a real chore considering that this month's hot temps don't exactly inspire baking. Fortunately, Faith Durand's new cookbook, Bakeless Sweets, gives 125 oven-free alternatives, from mouthwatering icebox cakes to Nutella fluff. We got started with these over-the-top chocolate and peanut-butter pretzel bars. Drizzled with chocolate and finished with a pinch of smoked salt, these chewy bars prove you can whip up a delicious dessert without turning your kitchen into a sauna.

Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pretzel Bars

Recipe adapted from "Bakeless Sweets" by Faith Durand (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)

  • Makes 12 to 16 bars
  • Start to Finish: 1 hour 30 minutes (includes chilling time)

Ingredients

1 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

2 cups mini marshmallows

¾ cup creamy natural unsweetened peanut butter, well stirred

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 cups thin pretzel sticks, roughly chopped

4 cups unsweetened puffed-wheat cereal

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

½ teaspoon smoked salt (or additional kosher salt)

Directions

1. Lightly grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the sugar with the corn syrup, then bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat, stir in the marshmallows until about half of them are melted, then stir in the peanut butter until well combined. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the pretzels and puffed wheat until well combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and, using lightly greased hands, pat it firmly into the dish. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with smoked salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Once firm, slice into small bars with a hot, wet knife, then serve.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • Check out more no-bake desserts from Bakeless Sweets.

  • Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, these bars will keep for up to three days.