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Nanaimo Bars

I have a thing for cookbooks. You too? Good. I hate to be alone with my addictions. In my kitchen there are dozens of cookbooks with thousands of recipes (mainly in Portuguese, English and French) that I'm yet to read, not to mention try. Sometimes I grab one and pass my hand on the cover as if I could feel all the vibes... The shelves on top of my sink hold my Marabout collection of small books like this Trish Deseine ode to chocolate. The book features Nanaimo Bars on the cover. I couldn't tell how many times I've grabbed it, and felt compelled to look at those bars. Thanks Lauren for the challenge!

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 / Gluten Free Graham Wafers

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers

1 cup (138 g) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) 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

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 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.

Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
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 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.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

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
2 cups (254 g) Icing Sugar

Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) Unsalted Butter

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.

My thoughts on the challenge:

- I've halved the recipes (Graham Wafers and Nanaimo layers) and didn't have any problem with that, except maybe a little for the middle layer, as it's not so easy to cream small quantities of butter.
- I was thrilled to try Gluten Free baking! Sorghum Flour was a pain to get. I used soya flour and it worked just fine. Will definitely try Gluten Free more often!
- The Graham Wafers on their own are too sweet for me. I'll reduce the sugar a bit next time I make them.
- My bars are hazelnut flavoured. Instead of almonds I've used hazelnut meal - actually the only change I did to the original recipe.


Luce said...

Hi there, great job on the challenge - your photographs are beautiful!

I will be sure to check your blog again soon :-)

Lauren said...

You did such a great job on my challenge! I love the hazelnut flavour, and your photos are breathtaking!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love the pictures!

Anonymous said...

Nope... you're not alone. I have TONS of cookbooks that wait patiently for me!

Your bars are gorgeous! Yum!

BumbleVee said...

Oh, yeah ..... hardly ever see Nanaimo Bars.... but, I make them on occasion. Being Canadian, we were introduced to them early in life.... but only for special occasions....MMMMMMMMMM..... for those who have never had one... make some today! You'll be glad you did.

Can you believe I bought a Chocolate Everything Cookbook and there are no Nanaimos in it? What a rip off! I should have taken it back....

Aparna said...

They're perfect. So now you got to make them and not just admire the picture. :)
Yes, the sugar needs to come down a bit.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Oh também conheço uma pessoa assim, que tem muito livros que namora sem fim... Não digo é quem é, mas se calhar até conheces ;) Belas barrinhas!

Bordeaux said...

Ah these are magnificent things. Beautiful to look at and the hazelnut flavor sounds great!