Sweet Treats: Brownies and Granola Bars

Today was one of the most depressing days of the year. It was the first day of fall where I had to put winter coat on because it was so cold in the morning. There was even a light powdered dusting of snow which vanished thankfully not long after the day broke. Have you guessed yet I am not a fan of late fall or winter?

How do I cope with this cold day? I go home, make a lovely cup of warm tea and enjoy a sweet treat. A little sugar rush always does the trick. I always get that “comfort food” feeling with classics like brownies, date squares and lemon bars. I particulalry like a snack packed with nuts for protein too, like granola bars.

granola bar 7

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Nutlove: Deluxe Nut Bars

This is the perfect time of the year to be recipe hunting. I will have 2 family gatherings and I will have to bring a dish to each event. I have my favorite finds bookmarked in a special folder. This month’s Love Bloghop is focusing on Nuts. A perfect choice for a holiday treat.

I came across these Deluxe Nut Bars and I knew I had a winner. Bars are a great recipe to prepare for a holiday gatherings because you can make them ahead of time, freeze them if you have too, and they are so much easier to carry then a cake!

I made one single change to this recipe. I added a layer of chocolate between the base and the nuts, really good move if I do say so myself. And I am giving you the full recipe for a big pan but I made half the recipe and baked the bars in a small loaf pan. Keep that in mind as you look at the picture.

So I have a confession to make. I honestly cannot remember the last time I made dessert bars. I use to make them all the time as a teen when I started baking. But I had no desire to make bars for the last years. It was not exotic enough I guess. Well after making these I remembered another reason why I stopped making them. They are to good, so deliciously sweet and filled with calories! Is there a food or recipe you have not prepared in a long time, and why?


Yields 52

Deluxe Nut Bars

20 minPrep Time

40 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

Save Recipe


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (500 mL)
  • 1?3 cup granulated sugar (75 mL)
  • 1?4 tsp salt (1 mL)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (250 mL)
  • 3.5 oz (100 gr) 70% cocoa fine chocolate bar
  • 2?3 cup light (golden) corn syrup (150 mL)
  • 1?2 cup packed light brown sugar (125 mL)
  • 1?3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (75 mL)
  • 3 tbsp whipping (35 percent) cream (45 mL)
  • 4 cups mixed nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil and grease with butter.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your fingers, cut in butter until evenly combined. Mixture will resemble coarse crumbs and start to come together. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, press crust evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Break the chocolate bars into squares and cover the crust. When the squares have melted push down on them a bit to spread the chocolate. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat corn syrup and brown sugar, stirring constantly until brown sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Add butter and cream. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in the nuts. Spread nut filling evenly over cooled crust.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking pan on a wire rack.
  7. Using foil, lift cooled bars from pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into small bars.
Recipe Type: Desserts


December is #nutlove month!

Please join in on the #nutlove fun by linking up any nut recipe from the month of December 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #nutlove event! The twitter hashtag is #nutlove :). Here are my fellow co-hosts…

Badger Girl Learns to Cook ~ Kimberly
Cheap Ethnic Eatz ~ Evelyne
Rico sin Azúcar ~ Helena
Teaspoon of Spice ~ Serena
The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen ~ Susan Palmer
The Spicy RD ~ EA Stewart
Vegan Yack Attack ~ Jackie S
Baking and Cooking, a Tale of Two Loves– Becky
No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ T.R.
Pippis in the Kitchen Again ~Sheila

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
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 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
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.
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.