Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Graham Wafers and 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

Wow, can you believe it friends? I'm actually posting this challenge on time, something I haven't done since oh, maybe June? Anyway, here it is and I thought this was a pretty good challenge. It wasn't very hard which was nice since we're still getting settled after our crazy December move, and I had never made homemade graham crackers before, something that I've been meaning to try.

Even though we were encouraged to make the graham crackers gluten-free, I just didn't have the budget to go out and buy three types of flour that I will probably never use again, so I just used regular old wheat flour which was also allowed. The graham cracker recipe was very forgiving. I fudged some things by not freezing my butter, using light brown sugar instead of dark, and 1% milk instead of whole, and it all turned out fine. That's my kind of recipe.

The Nanaimo bars were pretty good--I especially liked the bottom layer. Mmmm. I wasn't crazy about the middle layer which reminded me of cheap birthday cake frosting, but I am toying with the idea of making these again with either a lighter, more custardy middle layer or a cream cheesy layer. Cheap birthday cake likeness aside, this was a fun challenge and a nice introduction to a popular Canadian treat just in time for the Olympics.

The recipe:
For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
(*I just used 2 1/4 c. regular flour)
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed (*I used light since that's what I had)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen (*I didn't want to bother with freezing the butter, so I just cut it up right out of the fridge and it was fine.)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk (*I used 1% since that's what I had)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. 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.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. 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.
9. 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

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — 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 (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) 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.


Mary said...

Cheap birthday cake frosting! You're spot on there! I made mine more custardy, but was tempted to use cream cheese too. Laziness won, as usual, as there was no cream cheese in the house. It didn't taste anything like cheap frosting, I'm happy to say! I'm glad to hear the graham crackers are so adaptable to what's on hand, as I can't wait to make them again. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

The filling is much nicer if you use a little less sugar and a little more butter (what isn't better with more butter?) A little cream cheese sounds like a good idea as well...

Suzler said...

I love the presentation of your bar. :)

I felt the same about the buttercream filling when I tried it out the bowl, but for some reason I absolutely loved it as part of the whole bar. A custardy/cream cheese layer sounds really good too.

Carrie said...

I totally agree about that middle layer being very sweet. I'm glad to hear the graham crackers were so easy. I didn't make the grahams, and I'm planning to try them soon! Great looking nanaimos.

Kristin said...

We make naniamo bars every Christmas and the middle layer always has cream cheese in it (butter too). It is one of our favorite recipes I can get it to you if you like, and it never tastes like frosting.

Anonymous said...

It was great to see all of your baking creations on Saturday at the Bake Sale. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

this looks sooooooo good!! thanks for the recipe! your blog is so cute and informative!

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

That looks so yummy!