Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January Daring Bakers-- Nanaimo Bars

Where has the month gone? I will be finished with school in December, and when I say that the time felt like it was creeping slowly up until graduation, remind me of how often these Daring Baker Challenges came up and remind me of how little I posted to this blog in between challenges! Wow-- not a single post since last month's challenge. I'm pathetic.

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

This month's challenge is in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nanaimo Bars (pronounced Nah-nye-Moh) are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate.

Now, going into this challenge, I knew I wouldn't like the results. I don't like graham crackers and I've only once ever made Nanaimo bars and I didn't like them either. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised with the results, but unfortuntely, I still don't like either of them! But I'd say that was a successful challenge, woudln't you? If I ended up liking something I didn't like previously, then that would mean that I made them wrong! So I must have reached success this month!

However, even though I don't like the taste of either of the recipes, I must say they both turned out rather striking!

Oh, and I didn't make my recipe to be gluten-free. I already knew I wouldn't like the results and I didn't want to spend the extra on ingredients that I'd probably never use again, so I went ahead and used regular ingredients. If you'd like the recipe for gluten-free, check out the other Daring Bakers creations!

Graham Cracker Recipe

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 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

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

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 and sprinkle with the topping. 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.

mine were a little too thick, but still tasted nasty like a graham cracker.

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
1/2 cup Almonds, Finely chopped
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

-Middle Layer-
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder -Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted
2 cups Icing Sugar

-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.


Anonymous said...

despite your aversion to graham crackers, yours look really professional!

Mary said...

Everything looks fantastic, and I hope you were able to find some people who did love them! The graham crackers were my favourite part:)

fairy_mi said...

yummmm, your nanaimo bars version looks really great!
Love the presentation
and the making of pictures are fabulous.
Great job!
(also a DB)

Anonymous said...

at least your honest! You can always try nabisco famous chocolate wafers instead of the graham cracker... They look great even though you don't like the taste!

Mon said...

Well despite not liking them you did a great job! They do look striking.

Cookie Kelly said...

Your bars look perfect! Nice job.

Suzler said...

I'm impressed that you ploughed on with the challenge, despite not liking the crackers or the bars. Your crackers look absolutely fantastic and your Nanaimo bar is so perfectly cut. I agree - very striking. :)

I hope your husband and little one get better soon.

Lauren said...

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy them, but they sure look fantastic! Thanks for giving my challenge a shot =D.

Rachel said...

Very Neat!

chef_d said...

they look perfect :)

shelley c. said...

Great job, especially considering you knew they weren't really your thing. Great photos and beautifully crafted food!
Can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings us :)

Anonymous said...

Too bad you didn't like them. They look good, though.

creampuff said...

Sorry to hear you're not crazy about Nanaimo Bars ... but your graham crackers turned out lovely!

Sara said...

These look really beautiful! These weren't my favorite either as I found the bars too sweet, but my friend's boyfriend totally loves them so at least they are getting eaten!! :)

Megan said...

Hudos for even attempting. I dont know if I would have knowing I didnt like them. They turned out beautiful!

Eyes Bigger Than Belly said...

Wow! Gorgeous post - They look so yummy! :) I'm so glad you used coconut - I was tossing up between that and caramel but ran out of time so just did the recipe version.
This is only my 2nd Daring Bakers Challenge and I'm loving it so far! :)