This month the Daring Bakers’ challenge was a tribute to Canada in honor of the Winter Olympic Games. Lauren of of Celiac Teen asked us to make the classic Canadian dessert to help chime in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
I’d never actually made Nanaimo Bars at home myself, having had them a few times and coming away thinking they were too sweet I simply avoided making them. What really got me raving for this challenge was the fact that we were to make our own homemade graham crackers. I’ve been wanting to make graham crackers for a while but like a few things – I start, I research, I bookmark and move on.
Lauren urged us to make the challenge gluten free but as it was not a mandatory part I decided to use the flours I had in my pantry. I had spelt, wholemeal whole wheat and all-purpose. I decided to go for a mix of wholemeal whole wheat and all-purpose for a nuttier flavor.
Nanaimo bars are named after the town Nanaimo in British Columbia. It’s a pretty straightforward type of sweet treat, which requires no baking (if you are not making your own crackers that is).
Basically there are three layers to the dessert – a cracker crumb base layer, which is topped by a light custard layer and the final layer consists of simple melted chocolate. From this basic recipe one can make any type of variety they fancy.
The dough for the crackers came very easily together and I had no trouble rolling, shaping and forming it. I actually had to leave the dough in the refrigerator for two days. Due to the wholemeal whole wheat flour I used, the biscuit was crunchier and nuttier in flavor. So good that I made a double batch! Although in the recipe it says to bake them for 25 minutes my graham crackers were perfect after just 12 minutes – so this might be something to watch in your own ovens.
As I love pistachios I decided to substitute them with the almonds in the Nanaimo bars. It added a lovely color and a wonderful mellow crunch! I also cut the icing sugar amount to half and still found these sweet enough. Finally I added a fruity layer of apricot puree between the top chocolate layer and the middle custard layer. Sensational!
The recipe below is with my tweaks and substitutes
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.
Wholemeal Whole Wheat Graham Crackers and Nanaimo Bars
Printable version of recipe here
- Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
- Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.
1 cup (140 g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (190 g) wholemeal whole wheat 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-flavored such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit ).
- 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.
- Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
- Bake for 12 (to 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.
- When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
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 Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Pistachios (or almonds), coarsely chopped
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
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.)
1 cups (127 g) Icing Sugar
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
small jar of apricot puree or preserve
- 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.
- For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
- For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.
The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.
Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.
Yes I have to stress the pint again – the graham crackers were simply irresistible. I ate so many one evening that I seriously had a tummy ache! The bars were lovely too, however, I found the amount of shredded coconut on the high side. I definitely would reduce it to half of the amount. It was a huge hit with Tom and Soeren. Tom managed to polish of 4 pieces in one sitting. My friend B., who is becoming a reliable recipe tester for me, found them to be sweet but delectable with the pistachios and apricot flavors.
Thank you to everyone who has voted for What’s For Lunch, Honey? at the weblog awards for the 2010 Bloggies. This humble blog is one of the top five finalists in the category Best European Blog! If you have not voted yet may I please solicit your votes – you have till January 31st to vote for your favorite blogs in a huge variety of categories.
You might like these Daring Bakers’ treats from WFLH:
|Lemon Meringue Pie||Chocolate Caramel Tart||Opera Cake|
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