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Archive for the ‘Daring Baker's Challenges’ Category

Piece Montee for the Daring Bakers!

In Breads / Grains, Daring Baker's Challenges, sweets, Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I made this! And it was goooooood!

When I saw the challenge for this month, I almost wet myself. They expect me to make that?!? Hoookaaay…

But, once I set my mind to it and began, it went very quickly and easily. Just follow the directions. The only thing I changed about the recipe was that I added about 3 ounces of cream cheese to the filling with the butter. ZOMG. It ended up tasting like cannoli filling. Lordy, lordy. And it was so easy to do, I’ll probably make it again. Damn. Just what I need. Easy access to French pastry.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Steak and Guinness Pudding for the Daring Bakers April Challenge!

In Beef, Breads / Grains, Daring Baker's Challenges, Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm
steak and guiness pudding

It's English, and it actually tastes good!

I’m Back!!!!

Yes, I have returned, albeit sporadically. You see, we bought the money pit. Yes, my new appliances are all in except for the fridge, which is coming on Saturday, but my new cabinets and countertops and floor are, sadly, waaaaay off in the distance. It’s one thing after another with this house. I’ve had the bamboo floors ripped up in the living room for a month now, and apparently it’s going to take a miracle of physics to fit it back down again. The pool, after four weeks of daily maintenance, is almost swimmable, and we have a lamp in the dining room now. Yay. A lamp. Renovations have all but stalled out because of unforeseen financial emergencies, but Mr. Gorilla and I haven’t killed each other yet!

So, I come humbly back to you, my dear readers, hoping you have stuck with me. I hated disappointing you all those days, and I’m so happy to be back! I cannot guarantee that I’ll post every single day, because you never know when the gas line will explode, or the roof will fall in, or whatever. But I will post as often as possible, I promise!

Today’s post is about the Daring Bakers April Challenge – Steamed Pudding! I’ve never been a fan of English food, but this was very good! Mr. Gorilla is a huge Anglophile, so I kind of made it for him, not expecting to like it, but I did. So did Penny. She is, after all, English.

So, we had free reign over fillings, so I took a savory turn and made it for dinner. It takes awhile to steam, and the setup is complicated, but it’s worth it. Good rainy day comfort food.

he April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I did not use suet. I used Crisco. Suet is gross, and the thought of it makes me blart. So there. It turned out fine.

Steak and Guinness Pudding

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds steak

2 cups finely sliced onion

1/3 cup flour

salt, pepper, parsley

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle Guinness

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

3/4 cup Crisco

salt, pepper

a few tablespoons of water

Directions:

Cut the steak into small cubes, and toss with the 1/3 cup of flour, salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Add the onions and toss. Add the Worcestershire sauce and toss. Finally, add the Guinness and toss. Let it sit and marinate while you make the crust.

Okay, this takes some prep. Find a heatproof bowl that’s big enough to hold all the steak, but small enough to fit in your biggest pot. I know. Now crumple up some foil, lay it in the center of the pot, and set the bowl on top. Still fit? Good, go with that one. Don’t worry, it gets even more complicated in a minute.

Combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cut in the Crisco until the mixture is mealy, and drip in enough water to form the dough into a ball. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, knead once or twice until smooth. Set aside about 1/4 of the dough – that will be the lid. Roll the rest out into a circle big enough to line your bowl, and lay it in. Easier said than done. Pinch and seal any rips.

Add the steak and stuff to the bowl, liquid and all. Make sure the edges of the crust come well past the top of the liquid.

Roll out the reserved dough to form a disc large enough to cover the bowl. Lay it on like the top crust of a pie, and fold the edges of the bottom crust over. Press to seal, dabbing with water if necessary. Pretty? Pretty.

Now. Cover the bowl with foil, pleating the center to allow for expansion. Using twine, yes, twine, tie the foil down tightly over the foil, under the edge of the bowl. You want a steam-proof seal. Make a handle out of the twine, and tie it like an X across the top. Phew. Crack open another Guinness for yourself.

Place the bowl on top of the balled-up foil in the pot, and add water to the pot so it comes up no higher than 2/3 the height of the bowl. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer, and let steam for four or five hours. WHAT? Yes, it takes that long. And you have to keep adding water, too, or else it boils away.  I know. Check it every once in a while, and when the crust is nice and golden, it’s done.

pudding crust

Much of the color comes from the Guiness.

To serve, gently unmold on a large plate, and slice like a cake. A wet, sloppy cake. A word of warning – my crust came out waaaay too thin and delicate to unmold, so I just served it like a casserole. It’s so juicy, you don’t even need an extra gravy. Yum.

Tira Misu for the Daring Bakers’ Challenge!

In Daring Baker's Challenges, sweets on February 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Please remember that pixels are NOT edible!

Boy, oh boy, do I love me some tira misu! It never really occurred to me to make it until this challenge came up – I’m not sure why. I guess because Publix sells them for like, eight dollars. But then again, the ones at Publix aren’t so great. This one actually came out so beautifully, it’s going to be my go-to tira misu recipe from now on.

Now, you don’t really have to make your own mascarpone. That’s a bit over the top, I admit, but I’ll include the instructions here just in case you’re feeling ambitious. I DO, however, recommend making your own ladyfingers. Once you taste these, you’ll never use store-bought again. I mean really – they’re light, airy, sweet, and slightly crispy on the outside – perfect. NOT SPONGY! They’re NOT supposed to be spongy! The store-bought kind are more like sponge cake than anything else. Just trust me on this – it’s worth the effort.

You can do all kinds of variations – many of the other Daring Bakers used citrus and other fruits. Me, I stuck with the traditional espresso because I love espresso. I drink it every day. If you don’t like coffee things though, feel free to experiment! That’s the fun part of cooking!

Here’s everything you need to know:

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

RECIPE SOURCE:

Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

OUR NOTES/ TIPS:

  1. If you cannot find Marsala, port wine is considered a good substitute.
  2. If you would rather not use alcohol in your tiramisu due to diet restrictions or because you want to serve it to children, you may replace the Marsala with an equal amount of espresso or coffee.
  3. Many people, especially those who are not excessively fond of coffee, might find brewed espresso very strong. In this case, please feel free to dilute the espresso or coffee to the desired strength.
  4. It is generally suggested that cream with 25% fat is best for making mascarpone, but 36% works just as well.
  5. We both used lime juice. Deeba has a recipe for mascarpone posted on her blog here.
  6. The mascarpone recipe below is for approximately 340gms of mascarpone. The tiramisu recipe requires only 1/3 cup/75gms so you may scale down the recipe to requirement or put the extra mascarpone cheese to other equally good use. (100gms cream will yield approximately 75gms mascarpone)
  7. While using the double boiler to make the mascarpone as well as the zabaglione, always ensure that the bottom of the bowl on top doesn’t touch the bottom of the lower one. It is important to use a stainless steel bowl to pour your cream into, while making the mascarpone.
  8. Ladyfinger batter is very fragile so fold in the flour and yolks very carefully into the meringue so that the whites don’t lose their volume.
  9. It might be a good idea to decide the size of the dish in which you intend to set the dessert, and make the fingers to a size which would fit that dish. This makes it easier when assembling the tiramisu later. Do remember that ladyfingers/ savioardi puff up a little while baking.
  10. Ladyfinger biscuits may be stored up to a week in an airtight container. We both made the savoiardi fingers 4-5 days in advance, and stored them in an airtight box in a cool place (or the refrigerator).
  11. We both made the zabaglione & pastry cream the previous day, and assembled the tiramisu the next morning. I (Aparna) then froze my tiramisu for 7 days before decorating and serving it.
  12. Placing the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about 1/2 to 1 hour before hand makes the cream whip up very well.
  13. Do not dip the ladyfinger/ savoiardi into the coffee solution for more than ONE second, or they might become very fragile & disintegrate. Extra soaking is likely to spoil the end product, making it soggy. I (Aparna) dipped my biscuits only on one side and found they soaked up more than enough coffee solution.
  14. If you would like to de-mould your tiramisu from your dish (cutting can be easier and neater this way, you can line your dish with plastic wrap (leaving a little extra on the sides of the dish) and then start assembling your tiramisu. Once the tiramisu sets in the refrigerator, you can use the overhang to pull the tiramisu out of the dish.

We have chosen Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu for a couple of reasons.

  • Firstly, his recipe is different from most other tiramisu recipes as he makes a zabaglione, an egg custard which is flavoured with Marsala wine (you may use coffee instead). Even more important is that his zabaglione is cooked so there is no risk from using raw eggs.
  • He also makes a vanilla flavoured pastry cream which we haven’t seen in other tiramisu recipes.

While both of us do eat eggs, we do have a preference for desserts where the smell and taste do not come through. We found that the coffee in the recipe masked the eggs in adequately.

Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.

PREPARATION TIME:

Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.
Making tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. So this challenge requires some prior planning.

Please read the instructions as you need to begin making the mascarpone at least a day in advance.
The zabaglione & pastry cream also need 4 hours to an overnight for chilling, as does the main dessert. The flavours mature after an overnight rest, and the dessert can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Once assembled, the tiramisu can be frozen till you need to serve it, in case you are not serving it immediately.

TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:
For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients:
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

LINKS & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Site Links:
Step by step pictures for Tiramisu including zabaglione & pastry cream
Gluten Free Ladyfingers: 1000 gluten-free recipes by Carol Fenster (ladyfingers pg 436, Tiramisu pg 651)
Gluten free Ladyfingers and Tiramisu
Diary Free Tiramisu: Levana Cooks Diary-Free by Lévana Kirschenbaum, Menachem Adelman, Meir Pliskin (pg 86)

Video links for making tiramisu:
These are not for the recipe given for this challenge, but the procedure in the video would be a helpful guide.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TEJXgjId8w
Gordon Ramsay – Video for dipping savioardi – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HlqQqP6Mcw

Also, if you use 8 ounces of mascarpone cheese and  a little extra whipped cream, you’ll end up with enough cream to frost the whole thing like a cake. In addition to being absolutely heavenly, it looks pretty, too.

Still pretty, despite misbehaving cocoa powder!

Nanaimo Bars for the Daring Baker’s Challenge

In Daring Baker's Challenges, sweets on January 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Sweet, sweet calories. Be still my hips!

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.

Tips:

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.

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:

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

Directions:
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.

Some Tips:

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.

Oops! I took a bite of the model!

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
Ingredients
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

Directions:
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!

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