Nanaimo Bars (Daring Bakers Challenge Jan 10)

Lemongrass nanaimo

rose & matcha nanaimo

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

Being snowed in and unable to go into work, I thought about how pathetic the English are when it comes to ‘extreme’ weather. I bet Canada doesn’t stop working; we had 40cm of snowfall and minus 10 degrees, chaos! It felt appropriate to make these delightful Canadian Nanaimo bars. I’ve never heard of Nanaimo bars before but I thought they looked like chocolate tiffin & millionaire shortbread. This challenge included gluten-free graham crackers. Luckily for me my store cupboard is already filled with gluten-free flours but I was out of sorgum so used buckwheat instead. I found the glutinous rice flour a bit too sticky so added white rice flour to the mixture which did the trick. These were simply delicious!

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

My first attempt I made 4 flavours:
Poppy seed base, lemon custard, white chocolate topping
Pumpkin seed & Matcha base, rose custard, dark chocolate topping
Cashew nut base, ginger custard, milk chocolate topping
Hazelnut base & earl grey custard. Matcha white chocolate topping

the bases

the custard

in the tins, not setting :o(

I substituted the coconut & almond for other types of nuts and seeds. From hearing about other daring bakers experience of the custard layer being too sweet, I opted for a ‘healthy’ version, and literally made a custard, which wasn’t such a good idea…it didn’t set so I popped it in the freezer, so my Nanaimo bars came out more like frozen cheesecakes. Still tasty though not quite right…

My second go I decided to stick with the recipe. I made bite-sized nanaimos for a party of hungry artists. I decided not to add the egg into the Nanaimo base as I had problems with it the first time.

Cashew nut base& lemon grass custard
Hazelnut base & matcha custard

These were incredibly tasty & went down a treat!

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.
Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

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
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
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.

Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:
• Glutinous rice flour does not contain any gluten, as it is made from a type of rice called glutinous (or sweet) rice.
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
Variations allowed:
• Although I highly recommend using gluten-free flours, as the chemistry is very interesting and the end result can be amazing, you are allowed to use wheat.
• If making them gluten-free, no wheat, barley, rye, triticale, kamut, spelt, durum, semolina, or other gluten containing ingredients may be used. Removing those ingredients ensures it is safe for those with Celiac Disease and other health issues where gluten causes problems. If you do plan on serving this to someone on a gluten-free diet, also ensure no cross-contamination occurs.

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) 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.

• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.

13 responses to “Nanaimo Bars (Daring Bakers Challenge Jan 10)

  1. These nanaimo bars were so delicious. The selection of flavours was great! I hope you make more very soon. The hungry artists really enjoyed the bite-sized ones.

  2. Everything looks amazing! I love how you changed up the recipe to create such fantastic flavours – the hazelnut/earl grey/matcha white chocolate one sounds especially wonderful! Beautiful job on my challenge =D.

  3. Those look lovely! I love the variations and some I never would have even thought of! Brilliant!

    Yep 40cm and -10 is a typical day in Ottawa for us, well actually -10 is almost shorts weather middle of january and 40 cm just means a bit of extra excercise! 🙂 But that’s Ottawa.

    One year in Toronto we got 30 cm of snow and the mayor called in the army to dig us out! It’s been at least 10 yrs but the jokes still persist!

    Now Vancouver is more like your part of the world. 5 cm of snow I was the only idiot driving to work. Everyone else called into say there is white stuff on the ground, not enough to ski so I don’t know what to do!

    Now Edmonton mostly gets this granules like stuff (I refuse to call it snow, snow should be fluffy and flaky!) but mid Jan end of feb the temps drop to -40 (-50 with the windchill) and only only place I’ve seen where there are places to plug in your car (to keep the battery warm) at work, at the mall, at the gym (you get the idea!)

    Anyway a little glimpse to my experiences in Canada.

    • Thanks Yosha for sharing your experiences, bbrrr, i don’t think i’d be able to survive in the Canadian winter!

      • Ooops didn’t mean to discourage. For a start, if you are west of the Rockies (i.e BC) you should be fine. My previous company in BC had a large number of British transplants (mostly from Cambridge). Most thoroughly enjoyed the mountains, water, trees. A few actually ended up applying for citizenship!

  4. Tried your dish and my kids loved it. As a thank you here is one in return

    Morning Glory Muffins

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1 1/4 cups white sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups grated carrots 1 apple – peeled, cored, and chopped 1 cup raisins 1 egg 2 egg whites 1/2 cup apple butter 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly oil 18 muffin cups, or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, apple butter, oil and vanilla.
    In a large bowl, stir together flours, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in carrots, apples and raisins. Stir in apple butter mixture until just moistened. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.
    In a small bowl, combine walnuts and wheat germ; sprinkle over the muffin tops.
    Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.

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