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No Oven Required: Student-Approved Sweet Treat Recipes

Craving something sweet? This roundup of super-fast recipes includes bubble tea, cookie dough, and brownies with a surprising ingredient!

Berkeley is a foodie’s paradise. With impeccable brunch spots, cheap eats, and budget-friendly restaurants located all over the city, it’s also a college student’s dream come true. Sometimes, though, you just want a quick (but delicious!) way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

The answer: no-bake goodies. There are scores of Instagrammable no-bake desserts online that can satisfy your cravings without you having to fire up an oven in the heat of summer. Here are a few favorites.

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Breakfast treats: Enjoy your wake-up call

Chocolate chia seed pudding

This six-ingredient recipe holds a reputation for its versatility (you don’t even need to use a blender if you don’t want to). You could also use almost anything to sweeten the taste; we’re particularly fond of using molasses because of the robust flavor. This pudding is also vegan and gluten-free, so it’s an absolute winner.

PB & J a new way

This classic childhood treat is often overlooked when you’re searching for a quick morning brekkie. The options to customize are endless. Try it with almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter; you might even sprinkle on granola to add some crunch. We especially love toasting the bread beforehand for extra crispiness. You can also try pairing your favorite nut butter and jam with honey graham crackers found at the Trader Joe’s on University: You won’t regret a single bite!

Boba drinks

This beverage has seemingly charmed the taste buds of the entire Berkeley campus. A Taiwanese drink, boba is made with black tapioca pearls that are easily purchased online. Boba, also known as bubble milk tea, has almost formed a cult following at Cal—it’s very sweet, available in lots of places, and often caffeinated. If a homemade boba drink doesn’t calm your breakfast sweet tooth, you can always consider buying it at one of the 5 best boba spots in the city.

Fruit smoothies and smoothie bowls

With hundreds of ingredients to play with and endless combinations possible, you might never get bored by breakfast smoothies. You can rock your almond, soy, or cashew milk needs in a traditional smoothie drink, or let your creativity shine by prepping some smoothie bowls filled with granola and other fiber-rich ingredients. Add some flax seeds from the Trader Joe’s on University Avenue or some all-organic blueberries from the Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market (10 a.m.–3 p.m. every Saturday on Center Street). The sky’s the limit!

Afternoon snacks: Beat the midday slump

Cookie dough bites

These gobbets of goodness are sure to turn your mood around. You can vary the extract, replacing vanilla with almond, if you prefer. Make up to a dozen bites following this recipe, then cover and store in your fridge for up to a week; they make great “trailblazer bites” for weekend hikes up to the Big C. Pro tip: they taste awesome paired with cold ice cream or gelato from Trader Joe’s.

Quick pumpkin pudding

Using only 5 ingredients, this scrumptious recipe has so much zip that it will make you rethink your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie tradition. For added texture, feel free to throw in a bit of any of the following: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, dark chocolate chips, diced dried apricots, a pinch of cinnamon, or a spoonful of Trader Joe’s famous Speculoos Cookie Butter (we promise it tastes divine!).

Blueberry muffin mug cake

Okay, we’re cheating a little—but this filling recipe requires only a microwave, not a regular oven. You can tailor the recipe to your tastes: try a chocolate peanut butter mug cake flavored with nut butter, or a snickerdoodle version coated with cinnamon. And since you’ve already opened the microwave door, consider trying out these 10 additional microwave recipes, too.

Evening sweets: End the day right

Sweet potato brownies

You only need 4 ingredients to craft these flourless treats. Creamy, delicious, and gluten-free, they’re sure to satisfy your taste buds. Top them off with a drizzle of local maple syrup from the Farmer’s Market or from Trader Joe’s and delight in these naturally sweetened, fudge-filled brownies.

Caramel popcorn

The ultimate item for moviegoers! You can hit up the Trader Joe’s on University Avenue, or the Berkeley Bowl on Oregon Street or Heinz Avenue, to purchase their ready-made caramel popcorn (there is also a chocolate variation). Or craft your own at home using this easy-to-follow recipe. The latter method means that you could decide on your own mix-ins, such as nuts, chocolate, or both!

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