January 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

I was so excited to find out that Lauren of Celiac Teen was hosting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. Lauren always amazes me with her skills in the kitchen – I was just barely understanding the concept of cooking at her age! And to have a Daring Bakers challenge that I didn’t have to convert to gluten-free? Well, that made things a million times easier!

I’d never heard of Nanaimo Bars before this challenge. But now that I’m in the loop, I’m definitely making these again, with one requirement: that there other people are around to eat them all for me. These babies were SO good. But they were also SO bad, calling me from the fridge at all hours, begging me to have just one more. And I caved, too many times. With a graham cracker-almond-coconut-chocolate layer, a creamy vanilla layer, and another chocolate layer, who could resist?

I followed Lauren’s recipe rather closely, only substituting 1% milk for whole milk in the graham crackers. (I just don’t usually stock whole milk.) Those crackers were better than any gluten-containing ones I’d ever had - I munched on a few, and even used some for banana pudding (recipe to come soon!). And for the purpose of making graham cracker crumbs for these bars, they were excellent. I think that in the future, I’d love to try to make these with a mint filling in the middle layer. But honestly, they were amazing just as is.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers, adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 c sweet rice flour

3/4 c tapioca starch/flour

1/2 c sorghum flour

1 c dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 t baking soda

3/4 t kosher salt

7 T unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen

1/3 c honey

5 T milk

2 T vanilla extract

In a bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal and you can no longer see chunks of butter.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be soft and sticky.

Turn the dough onto a a surface well-dusted with rice flour. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. (I did this on top of some plastic wrap) Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well-chilled, 2 hours or overnight.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto a work surface and roll the doughinto a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour is necessary. Cut into 4X4 inch squares. Repeat with remaining dough and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Adjust the rachs in the oven to the upper and lower thirds and preheat to 350 degrees. Prick the wafers with a toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows. (I forgot to do this, but they still came out fine.) Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool completely.

To make crumbs – place wafers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs, or place in a large ziploc bag, force all the air out and smash with a rolling pin.

Nanaimo Bars, adapted from City of Nanaimo

Bottom Layer

1/2 c unsalted butter

1/4 c sugar

5 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/4 c gluten-free graham cracker crumbs

1/2 c almonds, finely chopped

1 c shredded coconut

Middle Layer

1/2 c unsalted butter

2 T plus 2 t heavy cream

2 T vanilla custard power (such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted – I did this.)

2 c powdered sugar

Top Layer

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

2 T unsalted butter

For the 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 8X8 inch pan.

For the middle layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and powdered sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.

For the top layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. (Cool to room temperature. If you don’t, your top layer will swirl in with the middle layer.) Spread over middle layer and chill.until firm. Cut into squares.

Makes about 16 squares.

23 Responses to “Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars”

  1. You’re so sweet Alta =D. I’m glad you enjoyed the challenge and that I could introduce you to these treats!

  2. I love eating these bars whenever they make it in culinary school where I used to study. But having them as gluten-free is so much better. I would make more gluten-free baked goods if it’s easy to find some gluten-free flours. I love the layers on your bars and some mint filling would be great too. :D

  3. I never heard of these either I don’t think. Or maybe I saw them once? Whatever, I would be powerless in their presence. As in serious midnight binge!!! The kind where you wake up with crumbs on your pillow and a guilty, full & confused feeling!

  4. GREAT picture! Interesting that I have seen so many different pictures based on the Daring Bakers challenge but it is the photos that make it happen. This beats them all!

  5. wow what a picture and so full of flavor terrific recipe

  6. Is that bar real? It looks way too good to be true and gluten-free? Amazing!

  7. Ah, now I get it. These bars are part of a challenge. I was wondering why I keep seeing them all over the place today.

  8. Alright, that’s it! All these awesome GF Nanaimo bars I’ve been seeing today…just not fair. I’d LOVE to taste them, not just see them! :) DEFINITELY something I’ve added to my “must try” list. They look fantastic!

  9. Oh I just read about these on another bar – they look AMAZING!!!

  10. It does look so great! I can see myself wanting all of it. :)

  11. What a treat!

  12. Such an interesting challenge! Your bars look fantastic!

  13. Gluten-free chocolate bars are surely perfect!

  14. Beautiful bars!!!!!! Yummmm.

  15. Since I grew up in Vancouver, Nanaimo bars were always a very special, all-too available treat. They are honestly one of my favorite kinds of bars and are always the first thing gone at a party!

  16. These look like something I really don’t want to make right now. I would eat way too many. They look delicious, like all your food Alta. (A mint filling does sound great.)

  17. Pingback: Banana Pudding with Gluten-Free Graham Crackers « Tasty Eats At Home

  18. These look so delicious. I love all the layers. It’s hard to believe your recipe is gluten free. Daring, indeed!

  19. An absolutely perfect chellenge in every way this time, I can see. :)

  20. I agree, these were pretty darn tasty. At first I wasnt sure about the mouth feel of the crust but I got over that by the second one. A mint version would be sooo good!

  21. I saw this challenge earlier and it made my mouth water! I love these — so rich and indulgent. I often grab one if I’m on the way into Canada, since they’re everwhere near the WA/Canada border and of course once you get into BC. Beautiful recipe!

  22. Oh my goodness, I think I have died and gone to heaven. These look FABULOUS. I need to try them NOW.

  23. Pingback: Masala-Spiced Adzuki Beans and Brown Rice « Tasty Eats At Home

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