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 that she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.
I so think that this girl Lauren is cool. You should check out her site even if you can eat wheat till it’s going out of style. She is very dedicated and is only 16!!! Beyond cool…
Anyway, since she does in fact have celiac disease, she modifies all of the Baking Challenges to fit her dietary needs. She has a double challenge every month. Nanaimo bars are not hard to make but her twist is that we have to make our own gluten free graham cracker crumbs. Good on you Lauren!
Now, don’t be put off with the whole aspect of making gluten free cookies.You can easily skip the gluten free graham cracker cookie part and just buy regular graham cracker crumbs at the grocer, and follow the rest of the recipe for a delicious treat. I myself am excited to have a good gluten free recipe under my belt. My ex-boyfriend Jeff, whom I just adore, lives back in NY and his mom can’t eat wheat anymore so I will be sure to make them for her the next time I am back in the States. Nanaimo bars are pure Canadian, originating right in Nanaimo, British Columbia. How befitting, since the Olympics will be held right in our backyard in a few short weeks. We ourselves went last week to watch the Olympic flame pass through here in Calgary. Monday night it arrived at Olympic Plaza and then Tuesday it actually passed right around the block from our house. Is that cool or what??
When I told my husband that this months challenge was Nanaimo Bars he said “Please don’t go changing it all around with the flavors- leave it be” which is what I intended to do keeping with the whole traditional Canadian thing but then as I was making them I had to change it slightly out of neccessity- And I think they are even better. As I was making the crackers I realized that I didn’t have any whole milk, only skim, so I used the next best thing I had on hand- Eggnog. (I can see my friend Lillian’s face right now, eewwww… but you love it or hate it, and we love it) It certainly has the high fat content of whole milk (and then some). Then when I was making the middle layer I saw I needed a small amount of heavy cream, which again I did not have on hand, so I once again turned to what I had on hand- Eggnog. So… my version is Eggnog Nanaimo Bars. I also only had a very small amount of almonds so I toasted hazelnuts as well to make up the difference. Finally, since these tend to be very sweet, I used bittersweet chocolate in the final layer to balance it all out.When I served them to my friends we all decided that we liked the hazelnut crust much better than the original almond. The next version I tried was a Chai Tea infused custard base with a toasted pecan bottom. I loved the Chai version but the toasted pecans didn’t give it as much favor as I would have liked, so maybe the next time I will try it with the hazelnut bottom…Anyway, I have listed the recipe in it’s original form with my changes next to it.
GLUTEN FREE GRAHAM CRACKERS
1 cup Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons Whole Milk (I used Eggnog)
2 tablespoons 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. I rolled mine out directly onto a silpat mat and then just transferred the sheet onto a baking pan into the oven.
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 15 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less or more, 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 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.
• 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
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped) ( I used 1/4 c Almonds, 1/4 cup Hazelnuts)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream ( I used Eggnog)(for chai version, steep chai tea in the heavy cream for 5 minutes,strain)
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups Icing Sugar
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate ( I used Bittersweet)
2 tablespoons 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. Chill for at least 1 hour
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.