Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If I lived in Nanaimo, I'd be really fat

After a two month haitus, during which I baked my butt off, but not audaciously, I rejoin the ranks of Daring Bakers in January. Hence:

"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"

Clearly, as with the oh-so-French vols-au-vent challenge, I needed some translation. I took it in steps:

Part 1. Gluten-free. Given the amount of flour in my pantry, this was the true foreign element of the challenge. Hopefully will be able to bluff my way through*.
Part 2. Graham Wafer. Hmm. "Wafer" sounds suspiciously like a former-British-Colony way of saying "cracker". Hold that thought.
Part 3. Nanaimo Bars. I was stumped. I read on. Aha!

"Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh."

Canada...which is, in fact, a former British Colony! Apparently the entire province, if not country, is overrun with super sweet chocolate sugar bombs disguised as bakery items. If you go to the town website, you get the recipe. If you go to the town itself, you will obviously get a heart attack**. Someone needs to warn the Olympic committee immediately about this threat.

The challenge further included a short description of the triple layer diet killer from the North:

1. A bottom crust made of crushed graham "wafers", cocoa, butter, sugar, nuts and coconut
2. A middle layer of flavored custard***
3. A top layer of chocolate ganache

The challenge was to bake fresh graham crackers, using an adaptation of Nancy Silverton's recipe. Then to take those crackers, crush them to bits****, and assemble our interpretation of Nanaimo bars. My mission clear, I went to work.

Frozen butter bits, ready for their close up

The graham cracker dough comes together easily in the food processor.
The secret ingredient? Lots of honey...

Form a rectangle, and put in the fridge overnight.

Dough must be really cold when you roll it out.

I made circles, although traditionally, the crackers are square.

They seemed happy enough...
Little did they know those smiles would soon be crushed.

Melting butter, sugar, cocoa and an egg together.
I throw in some almond extract and Kahlua for good measure!

My "add ins" for that chocolate layer:
Crumbs, almonds, and rice Krispies (in place of coconut)

In the pan, ready for layer two

Fresh cream cheese Kahlua buttercream

Seriously out of control decadence here.
My favorite part of these bars.
Must use on the next carrot cake...or cake of any kind that I make!

Where they got the expression, the icing on the cake. Pure chocolate, butter, and a dash of espresso drizzled on top, then spread out to make layer three. The whole thing goes right into the fridge, and about an hour later...

A Nanaimo Bar, eh!

This is an extreme close up, as the actual size of that bar is about 3/4" x 3/4", and even with a tiny bite of that tiny piece, I thought my head was going to explode from the sugar rush. They are decadent and totally deadly. Who knew those polite and neighborly Canadians had such a stealth weapon ready to go?

* I was. Although we were required to bake our own graham "wafers" we were allowed to use regular flour in the recipe if we liked. I liked. If you like, try the gluten-free version by substituting 1 c. sweet rice flour, 3/4 c. tapioca starch and 1/2 c sorghum flour for the flour in the original recipe.
** This is unfair speculation based on this challenge only. I am sure there are actually lovely stands selling seltzer water and fresh lettuce there, too, but they are not on the town website.
*** Another translation: Custard (in Canada) = pure buttercream frosting (everywhere else)
**** Really? A day of work, just to make crumbs??? Sigh. Luckily, the recipe makes a lot more than I needed for this challenge, and I found an unbelievably delicious way to use the extra. Stay tuned!


  1. LOL, ME 2
    Great job
    beautiful bars
    i love your graham wafers they look amazing

  2. LOL, loved reading your post!

  3. Loved your clever comment in the forum about eating the green to get the bar! Great work and welcome back from your hiatus.

  4. Ha ha.. I love your heading. Now I know why you want to be friends. :P I enjoyed reading you post. :) It looks like everything turned out perfectly. Job well done!

  5. Love all the step-by-step photos; especially the graham crackers with the smiles. :)

  6. Thanks for the great comments, fellow daring bakers! I loved visiting your blogs, too.

  7. couldnt agree more on salad ;) it should be mandatory, great work

  8. Oh you are funny! :) Gotta agree with you on spending a day to make the crackers then crush it into bits - yikes - esp when yours are all smileys! ;)
    And yes, when my egg turned into chocolate scramble eggs at 11pm, it wasn't funny at all!! :P However, I loved the look on my hubby's face when I told him about it AFTER he tasted the bar and said how good it was!! hahhahaaa! :P

  9. These turned out amazing...I am loving the smiley faces. The idea of adding Kahluha to the buttercream is genius...I may have to try that next time!

  10. These look great! I love the idea of a Kahlua buttercream - sounds so yum! :) Also - those smiley face grahams are totally adorable!!

  11. Hey we made these for our Girl Scout thinking day (as we chose Canada) they were great but I never heard of the Kahlua- yum, yum-- we had to make 400 servings so just plain Golden Grahams for us. This year we're Sri Lanka got any suggestions???