The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.
“Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. It’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.”
Lauren picked the Nanamio Bar in honor of the 2010 Olympics being held in Canada. I can’t wait for the hours and hours of Olympic watching in February! So much better than all the junk on tv these days, besides, of course, Blackhawks games!
We had the option this month of completing one or both of these challenges (graham crackers & nanamio bars). I decided to go for it and complete both, and successfully I did! I think I left my graham crackers in the oven too long…I didn’t make gluten free because of the number of flours I would need, so I stuck with all-purpose. The baking time asked for 25 minutes–which I think I stuck to, but when I make graham crackers again, I would take them out earlier, 20-maybe 18 minutes, even though my eyes and finger pricking may urge me to keep them in longer. No matter what, the graham crackers were tasty–a bit too crunchy, but still good; the Nanamio Bars were rich and satisfying! A small bar is all you need to fill a sweet tooth!
If it isn’t understood yet, the point in making our own graham crackers were for the graham cracker crumbs that were called for in the bottom layer of the Nanamio Bar.
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.
Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
Yield: 10 large crackers
Nanaimo BarsFor Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds/Walnuts (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted. I substituted equal amount of Corn Starch + 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract)
2 cups Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons 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.