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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daring Bakers - Nanaimo Bars

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 challenge was my first one in quite a while, and, well...I cheated, not to mention that I'm posting late. I didn't get a chance to make the graham wafers (and couldn't have done the gluten-free version anyway since I couldn't find the flours I needed in one store and wasn't going to haul a toddler & infant all over town to find what I needed). So, I used pre-made graham wafers in the Nanaimo Bars. I did, however, gain a better understanding of how much of a pain-in-the-rear cooking and baking are for those who must adhere to a gluten-free diet. (And also how expensive it is...non-wheat flours are pricy!) I do want to make the graham wafers (using whole wheat pastry flour) since I cannot find a brand in the store that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. I'll post it here when I do make them, but meanwhile, on to the Nanaimo Bars.

My guinea pigs guests, loved these. They are very rich due to all the butter. I thought they were good, but they weren't outstanding. The bottom layer was my favorite part. I'm glad I toasted the coconut and almonds, but I think the ratios should have been reversed. In fact, if I had doubled the amounts for the bottom layer (except the coconut) and just left it at that, I think I would have liked them much better. My husband wasn't a huge fan either, so the plan is to re-work the recipe and make it minty (and without the coconut, of course). Here's the recipe as I made it.

Nanaimo Bars

For 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 (about 8 pre-made whole crackers)

1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped (I used slivered & toasted them)

1 cup coconut, shredded (I used sweetened & toasted it)

For Middle Layer

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoons heavy cream

2 Tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted - I used SF French Vanilla)

2 cups icing/confectioner's sugar

For 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.
(Chill thoroughly.)
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, spread over middle layer and chill.

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