Everything You Need To Know About Making No-Bake Desserts

No-bake desserts are easy but you are still prone to making mistakes.

Troubleshooting what went wrong when you're baking a cake can be hard but when it's a no-bake dessert that you steamed instead of baked, there are a number of reasons why it didn't work out. We pinpoint those key moments when something may have gone wrong so you won't ever have to suffer from a failed dessert again. 

Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay

1 Read the recipe. 

If you know that the recipe isn't meant to be steamed, you need to read the recipe thoroughly because reading the recipe can show you whether it will be a dessert you can actually steam. The best desserts that you can steam are those desserts that can be used with or require a water bath. A wet baking method means that the dessert won't suffer from a little moisture in the air. A very humid environment, after all, can prevent a light and airy souffle from rising. In fact, it will be the downfall of your souffle recipe. 

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That's why baked cheesecake recipes and leche flan recipes do so well when steamed. There is no leavening happening so there's no danger of the layers from deflating. Recipes that create batters that are more liquid than normal -  such as chocolate cake batters - are great recipes to consider for steaming than other thicker batters. Thicker batters might become tougher than intended when steamed.  


What we're basically saying is this: not all desserts can be steamed, especially if the original recipe is meant to be baked in a traditional oven. 

A food steamer is great for those looking to cook their food gently.
Photo from Abenson

2 Prepare your steamer. 

Just like you need to preheat the oven when baking, you need to prepare your steamer as well. You still need to do this beforehand since the water needs to boil then simmer which will take from anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. That's time you can spend making your batter. 


Photo by Lazada

3 Prepare heat-proof containers. 

If you're going to be steaming, you still need to use containers that can withstand heat. Aluminum tins, which is what llaneras are, are perfect for both baking and steaming as well as tempered glass. It's not recommended to use plastic for steaming as steaming can soften the plastics, despite it being microwave-safe or heatproof. Steam is, after all, hotter than boiling water.


If you have it, use silicone molds! These are perfect for use in many baking and cooking recipes and steaming is no different. 

These tongs with slicing notches are also good for gripping cooked food, too.
Photo by lazada.com.ph

4 Be ready with tongs and a kitchen towel. 

Whenever you are handling something hot, you're going to need tongs and a kitchen towel. The tongs are really there to keep your hands from getting burned when you need to remove your steamed dessert from the steamer. 


The kitchen towel, however, is a great substitute for pot holders as well as a barrier between your steamed dessert and the water droplets that usually accumulate on the lid which threaten to drop onto your dessert, making it wet. The kitchen towel is particularly useful if you're not covering your dessert with foil as it steams. 

Photo by Riell Santos

5 Make your batter. 

Once you have all your mise en place, you can start on the batter. The key to the batters is ensuring that the batter is as smooth as possible before placing it in your steamer. Just like leche flans, you can strain your batter before filling your molds to ensure that it doesn't have bubbles. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

6 Steam your dessert but lower the heat. 

This is the easiest step in this guide. Once you have prepared your dessert in proper containers, place in the steamer. Even if you covered your desserts with foil, you may want to still place the kitchen towel over the dessert and then place the lid on.

Remember that liquid batters are more fragile than thicker batters so once the dessert is in, lower the heat to a gentle simmer so your dessert cooks gently, too.  

Photo by Majoy Siason

7 Chill or eat immediately. 

What we think is best practice with many steamed desserts is one of two things: you need to either chill them until completely cold or eat them soon after it's cooked. If you steamed a cake or cupcake, once cooled, frost immediately or chill so it doesn't lose more moisture which is the enemy of cakes.  

Anyone can make a steamed dessert because there isn't an oven involved in the cooking process. Take chance and make your steamed dessert, heeding these tips so that when it's all done, it's as delicious and luscious as it should be.  


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