January 27, 2010

Graham Crackers and Nanaimo Bars for Daring Bakers Challenge!

After missing the Daring Baker's Challenge in December, I'm back in the new year with White Chocolate 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 http://www.nanaimo.ca/.

I wanted to be creative this month and try some amazing combinations of flavors but again, I didn't get enough time to put my ideas into action. Lauren encouraged us to try gluten-free graham crackers, but unfortunately in the end I had to go with what I had at home. I used a mix (half each) of wheat flour and all-purpose flour for my graham crackers. I halved the recipe for the crackers as it was advised in the forum that we just need 1/4 recipe for making the nanaimo bars given for the challenge. The dough indeed was very soft and was kind of loose, so I added probably 1/4 cup more flour to make it into a dough.

The dough was not super bad to work with but I should say it was very soft and delicate. Since I knew I am going to use the crackers for the bars, I didnt bother to cut them out of rolled dough. I just cut the rolled dough and baked as is. My crackers didn't need to be baked for even 20 minutes because I opened the oven around 20 minutes and the edges had actually started to burn! (Lesson: Keep an eye on the crackers!!). So there's no picture of the baked crackers! ;-)

I made the rest of the nanaimo bars according to the recipe given. Eventhough initially it felt like there wasnt enough of the custard middle layer to cover the bottom layer, it gradually gives away and spreads nicely. After reading a comment about how the chocolate top layer wasn't enough to cover the top, I doubled the amount of chocolate (white) but used the amount of butter specified in the recipe. There was more than enough to spread on top. A bit of butterscotch chocolate garnish on top finished off my nanaimo bars!!

VERDICT: Nanaimo bars sure are delicious!! The combination of all three layers work perfectly. My favourite is the bottom layer which is a mixture of all different textures. The soft cracker crumbs along with chewy shredded coconut and crunchy (yes, they stay crunchy!!) almonds are awesome! I could eat them all the time :-). I think I should not have used any more chocolate for the top layer than what was given in the recipe because taken together, the three layers would work the best (perfect sweetness) at the proportions given.

I have made Nanaimo bars before, and both times I found it too sweet for my tastes, though that doesn't mean that I wouldn't eat them!! JM loved the nanaimo bars too, lil LM was happy licking the butterscotch chips! ;-)

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

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.

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.

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Have a great day everyone!!! Hoping to see you soon here on Tasty treats!


Anonymous said...

wow these look amazing - well done!

Jyoti said...

Gr8 ! Clicks..am drooling over ur bars and crackers! superb!!

Wic said...

it looks divine. love your presentation of the bars. it looks amazing.

Asha said...

Most artistic bar I saw so far today, good work JZ. Hope they have a prize or something for the best one. You should win.

Mary Teresa said...

Yum. I love White chocolate and will defiantly have to gice this version a try!

Tina said...

Beautiful presentation and tempting clicks dear.....

Pontch said...

I love your decoration on the bars.

Parita said...

Gorgeous Nanaimo bars!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea with white chocolate. Gotta try that!

Rachel said...

Very prettily plated...expected out of you :)

Mimi said...

White chocolate was a nice change. great job on the challenge.

fairy_mi said...

These Nanaimo bars desserts are so beautiful-
What a great version for the Canadian bars
Love the presentation!
(also a DB)

Swapna said...

Beautiful Bars!!!

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Nice pics, beautifully presented tempting Nanaimo bars!!!1

seema said...

Hi jeena,
wow this looks amazing


seema said...

hey jeena,

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

Your Nanaimo Bars are beautifully plated and so creatively decorated! :)

Fathima said...

wow looks so tempting... love ur presentation...

Lauren said...

Stunning job on my challenge! The butterscotch is so creative and fun =D.

Saee Koranne-Khandekar said...

Hey, this is my first time here--absolutely loved your blog. Bookmarked. Love the pictures, too!

creampuff said...

Very pretty bars, indeed!

SriLekha said...

that looks amazing n yummy!
do visit my blog when u find time!