Okay – I mentioned a few days ago that I had joined the Daring Kitchen, remember? Well, I’ve completed my first Daring Bakers Challenge, and here it is!
These are Nanaimo Bars – I had never heard of them before, but apparently they’re like, Canada’s national dessert. One of the ingredients is graham cracker crumbs, and being Daring Bakers, our assignment was to make said crumbs from scratch. What? Yes. From scratch. For crumbs. More on that later.
First, allow me to wax poetic about these bars. I’m a big fan of Canada – socialized medicine, friendly people, grizzly bears, Vancouver, and all that. But I soooo wish I had never heard of these bars! They are so very addictive! And they freeze well, and you don’t even have to defrost them to eat them because they don’t freeze solid. So they just sit in your freezer, and any time you get the slightest munchie pang, there they are, ready to add another 3000 calories to your count for the day. Yes, 3000. At least, that’s the rumor flying on the DB forums. I sorely hope it isn’t true, although I can really see how they could be. And it makes me sad. They are delicious.
They take a long time to make, in a way, because there’s a lot of waiting for things to cool. The actual steps don’t take long, but this is not a last-minute whip-up desert. It can, however, be made gluten-free, so those of you with celiac issues can get just as fat as the rest of us.
1. It is VITALLY important that you let each layer cool COMPLETELY before adding the next. If you don’t, the layers will all mush together and be very difficult to work with.
2. When it’s time to cut the finished bars, try nuking them for 15-20 seconds. I did not, and I actually broke a sweat trying to get a knife through them.
3. DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, give more than one of these to any child under 12 (can you say sugar high?). If your teenager eats more than one at a time, he or she is either smoking pot or playing World of Warcraft. Either way, you need to deal with the situation.
Here’s the sacred text:
Recipe from here.
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free (or not) Graham Wafer Crumbs (See next recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
If you are feeling ambitious, try making the graham crackers from scratch. The recipe makes way more than you’ll need for the crumbs, so you can keep them tightly sealed for about two weeks as munchies. They are much better for you than the nanaimo bars.
1. The dough is VERY sticky – your best bet is to roll it out onto parchment, then just transfer the whole shebang onto the baking sheet.
2. If you slightly undercook them, they turn out like chewy delicious cookies instead of crispy crackers. I mean, you need crispy crackers for the nanaimo bar recipe, but you can make the rest chewy if you’d like. It’s a matter of taste – I preferred the crispy, Mr. Gorilla liked the chewy.
The recipe is for gluten-free crackers, but I don’t have all those fancy flours, so I just used regular all-purpose. If you do the same, use 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of it.
Recipe adapted from this one.
For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
So, there ya have it, folks! My first DB Challenge! How’d I do?
I also wanted to mention that today is my puppy’s 1st birthday, so I’ll be posting a recipe for a doggie birthday cake within the next few days. Gotta have cake!