Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars 4

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.

This month's Daring Bakers had me very excited as I love Canada and I love bars and I have actually been to (well, through) Nanaimo. I was also excited because the host, Lauren is a coeliac and she asked everyone to try the gluten-free baking path. I spent four years being a gluten-free home cook and it is so awesome to make coeliacs something that they haven't had for ages i.e. croissants.

In the end, I ended up making the glutenful version because I was running out of time and I didn't have enough gluten-free flour in the pantry so I feel a bit like I betrayed Lauren but I was so happy that gluten-free baking was in the spotlight this month.

Graham Crackers 1

We had to make the graham crackers first which was a bit thing for me. As an Australian who grew up reading the Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High and various other trashy books that involved smores and other exotic food. All I gleaned from these books at the time is that graham crackers were involved in some way. When I made these the other day, I ended up making a smore by melting a marshmallow over my gas stove and mushing it the cracker and trying to melt the chocolate using the gas as well. It wasn't super successful but I totally dug the concept. Go, BSC!

Anyway, crackers! I kind of imagined these as being a Marie biscuit or a digestive biscuit but they were much more gingerbready than that. There was also something of a Tiny Teddy (honey, not chocolate) about them too. They were delicious and we still have a whole bunch left, waiting for me to think of something to do with them. I know a bunch of people had an issue with the dough being supersticky but I didn't have this issue at all.

Nanaimo Bars 3

Then I made them into Nanaimo Bars! The bottom layer is essentially like a hedgehog slice - I put graham crackers, chopped almonds, coconut and rice bubbles. Possibly too many additions but I couldn't help myself.

The middle layer is a sort of buttercream with custard powder added. It was super sweet so I added in some lemon juice and a little bit of cream cheese to cut through the sweet.

The top is melted chocolate - something I did too quickly and so it went lumpy. FAIL.

All in all, these were amazing but super-sweet. I enjoyed the challenge but I'm not sure I'd make them again because they were even a bit too much for this sweet tooth household.

Nanaimo Bars 2

19 comments:

Molly said...

I think those would be delicious with maybe some peanut buttery goo in the middle, instead of the buttercream stuff.

Hannah said...

Okay, so I'm pretty new to your blog but you've pretty much endeared yourself to me forever. I absolutely read the BSC then when I decided I had "grown out of them" I went and traded them in for Sweet Valley High (so mature I was, indeed).

And I also remember, in those pre-google times, wondering what on earth Twinkies were and, despite not knowing, feeling very deprived anyway! :D

Hannah said...

Oops, I also meant to mention that your Nanaimo bars certainly look rich and sweet, and that I hope you kept a fair few graham crackers for more s'more fun in the future! :)

Jen said...

I vote for more smores!
If only it weren't fire ban season!

Anonymous said...

when you made smores, was your crush there? OMG! Frankly, my sweet tooth is legendary so I am tempted to try these...

Sarah

xxx

s said...

fabulous...
love ur blog too

s-j said...

@molly - I have heard tell that such a thing exists and yes, it would be amazing

@hannah - it was like a whole other world! THEIR EXOTIC COOKIES AND TOOTSIE ROLLS! (also, thanks for dropping by!)

@jen - we will make more on the stovetop!

@sarah - look, smartiepants, my Crush might have been there and she was totally peachy keen. <3

@s - thank you! yours look amazing too.

Hannah said...

And barrettes! (Which my hair would've been too short to allow for anyway.) I assume you know they're republishing the first few along with a new prequel? And that Diablo Cody is writing a SVH movie?

I don't know how to feel.

bake in paris said...

Yes, i agree the middle layer is just too rich and sweet. Adding lemon juice and cream cheese is definitely the way to go.

I don't see the lumpy top layer, it all look delicious to me!

Same here, I am cracking my head thinking what would I do with the rest of the Graham wafers :-)

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

Audax said...

I think you are too harsh on yourself the finished bar looks fabulous to my eyes!!! And yes as an Aussie the Graham wafers tasted like mild ginger snaps or as you said honey tiny teddies. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

kristenly said...

your nanaimo bars look like they turned out great. i will have to agree that they are very very sweet. but good in small doses.

i've actually had smores in australia before. you can buy the bikkies with the chocolate on one side and it makes it much easier.

hm i miss oz. enjoy the warm weather for me!

s-j said...

@Kris - thank you for your lovely words. The lemon juices and cream cheese worked well but I think I'd cut out more of the original buttercream if I were going to do it again.
I still have heaps of graham crackers! What to do?!

@audax - Thank you so much! Yours were amazing (as always) - I wish I were as adventurous as you!

@kristenly - I hadn't thought of using chocolate digestives to make smores - of course they would work!

s-j said...

@Kris - thank you for your lovely words. The lemon juices and cream cheese worked well but I think I'd cut out more of the original buttercream if I were going to do it again.
I still have heaps of graham crackers! What to do?!

@audax - Thank you so much! Yours were amazing (as always) - I wish I were as adventurous as you!

@kristenly - I hadn't thought of using chocolate digestives to make smores - of course they would work!

s-j said...

@Kris - thank you for your lovely words. The lemon juices and cream cheese worked well but I think I'd cut out more of the original buttercream if I were going to do it again.
I still have heaps of graham crackers! What to do?!

@audax - Thank you so much! Yours were amazing (as always) - I wish I were as adventurous as you!

@kristenly - I hadn't thought of using chocolate digestives to make smores - of course they would work!

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...

Lovely job on your challenge! If your looking for somthing else to do with your graham crackers...try out s'mores. Take a graham cracker, place a chunk of chocolate on it, then some marshmallows and toast. Place another graham cracker on top and enjoy! They are best if you can toast the marshmallows over an open fire. Yum!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Y said...

I didn't pick up on the flavour of Tiny Teddy, but I'm with you on expecting them to taste like digestive biscuits. It was a complete surprise to me, what they actually ended up tasting more like!

s-j said...

@Natalie - Thanks for the suggestion.

@Y - Even reading through people saying they were surprised at the taste, I was still surprised. In all honesty, I think it was just the honey that made me think of Tiny Teddies.

gaylourdes said...

i found your blog from nixwilliams, and oh! i loved and was confused by many of the babysitters' club. and am immediately a fan of your blog. I still find it difficult to imagine that graham crackers are not some chocolate version of carr's water crackers and are pronounced "graam" rather than "gray-am". This makes me think of practical jokes / visual puns on people i know named grahame, like sending grahame crackers in the post.

but Barrettes! and Bangs!

I think you did good on the lumpy chocolate layer on the nanaimo bars. A friend at work told me she skips the copha on her caramel slice because although it makes the chocolate smooth, she doesn't like the taste. I suspect perhaps a number of chocolate crackles may have tipped her over the edge, so i think i have a nostalgia about copha, if not an enduring appreciation of it.

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