Nanaimo Better Late than Never

With a crazy end of January month I had to skip my first Baker’s Challenge. This kind of really broke my heart as I actually follow the blog of the host: Lauren of Celiac Teen. I was really upset at not being able to participate in time.

But I did promise myself to do the recipe as soon as I had a chance. And so here it is: Glutten Free Nanaimo Bars brought to you by Lauren, the January’s Bakers’ Challenge for the Daring Kitchen.

Well actually I did not make the gluten-free version, I did the usual one. This is one of my favorite bars and they always remind me of an old friend I have lost touch with: Stephanie. She used to make them and I love eating her Nanaimo bars. So rich and sweet a dessert! Makes me a bit sad thinking about it. But anyways….good memories. So this is the first time I have attempted to make some.

Here you see my base prepared, my custard filling and my chocolate glaze.

All put together and nicely chilled. I used a round spring form cake pan. I think this dessert cut like a cake slice with the beautiful chocolate and yellow layers makes quite an impact for the eyes.

All I need now is a fork and a glass of milk!

Nanaimo bars

gluten-free version

Recipe Source:  Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks I adapted it to be gluten-free.  The adapted recipe is below.
Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo

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.

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
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

Directions:
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 much less time, 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
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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.
Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:
• 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.
• 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.
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.

3 comments to Nanaimo Better Late than Never

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