Wednesday, 27 January 2010

January 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

I first discovered Nanaimo Bars while driving round the Canadian Rockies. I left mine in the car while checking out a lake, and it melted. When we got to Peyto lake, I buried it in some snow, and by the time I returned to the car, it was solidified again. Woo!

As well as being excited to make Nanaimo bars, I was also interested in gluten free Graham crackers. I've had a lot of requests for GF stuff on the stall, and I wanted to know what Graham crackers tasted like.

I couldn't find sorghum flour anywhere, and internet searches revealed that UK sorghum is rarely truly gluten free. Instead, I used more white rice flour to replace it.

The Graham crackers were otherwise uneventful. As mentioned in the recipe, the dough is very sticky and soft, and quite hard to work with. Despite flouring the surface loads, only 2 or 3 crackers out of each attempt were sturdy enough to make it off the worktop and on to the baking tray. Patience and a lot of re-rolling was necessary.

Graham Crackers

I didn't really like the taste. The honey flavour was a bit sickly, although the texture was very similar to digestives, which are often cited as the nearest thing the UK has to Graham crackers. I ground up the rest to use in the base of the Nanaimo bars.

I pretty much followed the recipe, except for the coconut. I failed to measure how much was left in the packet before writing the shopping list, so I only had half the amount needed. To make up for the missing coconut, I added in some oats as well.

Nanaimo Bars

The custard layer was incredibly thick, and it wasn't helped that the current weather meant that the kitchen as freezing, so the butter was very hard. I was worried that the custard powder made it taste chalky, but I hoped the other elements would make up for this in the finished product.

Finally, I topped the bars off with dark chocolate ganache. It was tricky to stop the warm chocolate seeping in to the custard layer, so it was important to cool the chocolate and work quickly to stop the custard melting. Once the chocolate layer was chilled, I turned out the bars and cut them in to shape.

Coconut, oat, almond & chocolate base, custard filling, chocolate topping.

They were just how I remembered. The sickliness of the Graham crackers was lost in the chocolate and coconut of the bottom layer, and the chalkiness of the custard had also disappeared. The chocolate topping mirrored the bottom layer nicely. Another great challenge from the Daring Bakers!


Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Nice bars and your crackers look an awful lot better than the spread out mess I ended up with. Have seen so many pretty neat grahams with little holes (your own included) that I was disappointed with my own that just spread out and had no holes. I only photographed them blurred out in background I was so ashamed of them!! I was sceptical about the custard powder either mixing in properly or adding much flavour but was pleasantly surprised. I didn't find the crackers on their own that sickly but the bars overall are major sweet and so I cut mine into cubes and speared them on cocktail sticks. That's about the quantity I could handle in one go! See you in the DB kitchen next month.

Jenny said...

As I said in the post, only a few of my crackers made it from the counter to the baking tray! I definitely think the cracker element was the hardest part of this challenge.

Just going to head over to your blog to check yours out now!

Chele said...

Oh how you have tempted my taste buds. Going to have to try this recipe very soon.