Archive for January, 2010

Eggnog and hazelnut 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 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??

Scarlet with the Olympic torch runner

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.

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

Bottom Layer:
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)

Middle Layer:

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

Top Layer:
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

middle layer

3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

chai infused with toasted pecan

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Squash Dinner Rolls

This recipe is from The Fresh Loaf, my new favorite bread site. Since I didn’t have a sweet potato on hand but did have butternut squash, I used it instead. These made lovely dinner rolls that accompanied a chipotle pineapple glazed ham

Squash Dinner Rolls
makes 12 to 18 rolls

1 1/2 Cups Butternut squash or sweet potato, baked
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup white or brown sugar
3-4 Cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of Cardamon
1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp water to be used for the egg wash, right before baking

Using a standing mixer with the bread dough attachment,mix the first 3 ingredients into a thick paste. Add the 1/2 cup of the flour with the reaming ingredients and mix, adding more flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Continue kneading  on low for 10 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with kitchen towel. Place in a draft free place and let rise until double in bulk, approx. 1 hour. 

Punch the dough down and knead for 1 minute.  Cut the dough into pieces and roll into small balls. I did mine the size of a large golfball (if there was such a thing). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover again with a towel, and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash and bake for 45 minutes.

with some melted butter, mmm...

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Potato Rosemary Bread

Okay, so I’m back. Well, okay, so I was back last week but I just needed to sleep many hours and then my little girl got sick and has had a fever the past 3 days so I was not really doing much of anything, other than lying around with her. Being in NY for 7 weeks seemed to take a lot out of us.Hopefully today is our last day of staying in the house and since she is content watching The Little Mermaid, I thought I would make some fresh bread to go with some vegetable soup for dinner. While most recipes for potato bread call for a  Biga , this one doesn’t, so it’s a fast (as far as bread making goes) and simple way to have a loaf on the table in time for dinner. It make a flavorful, moist bread and I usually make it as a special treat for my dear friend Kathy (and now a favorite of her son, Damian). So bake on, my friends, bake on…


2 medium potatoes, boiled until tender and then lightly mashed
1 tsp minced dried rosemary or 1 tbsp fresh
1/2 tsp honey
3-4 cups flour
1 package, or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cups hot potato water

Oven temp: 350 degrees F Bake time: 45-50 minutes

Boil the potatoes for approx. 15 minutes or until tender. Strain, saving 1 1/4 cups of the hot potato water. Add the minced rosemary to this to infuse it and let the water cool to about 100 degrees (a warm lukewarm)
Add the yeast and 1/2 tsp honey to the lukewarm potato/rosemary water and let bloom for 10 minutes.

the yeast mixture after 10 minutes

Add the salt, pepper and flour. With your standing mixer on low,and using the dough hook, start with 2 cups of flour and work your way from there, adding more flour 1/4 c at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and is not sticky anymore. Let the mixer knead the dough for 10 minutes. Then flour your countertop, put the lightly mashed (I just use my hands) potato in the center then top with the dough and knead until the potato is thoroughly mixed through.Alternately, you can do this by hand, stirring in the flour with a big wooden spoon and then kneading it on a counter for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and springy.

after the potato has been kneaded in

Then knead in the potato. There should still be small chunks of potato throughout the dough.
Lightly grease a bowl, place the dough inside and cover with plastic wrap and a towel to rise for 1 hour.
Turn the dough out, lightly knead for 1 minute and then shape it into a ball. Place it on to a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly floured. Cover again with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F 15 minutes before you put the bread in the oven.
Immediately before placing the loaf into the oven dust it with about 2 tsp of flour and slash the top with a sharp knife.
Now… You can just bake this on a baking sheet, or if you have a clay baking sheet, put the clay sheet in the oven when you preheat it and then just slide the bread on to it (right with the parchment paper). This makes for a super crusty bottom  🙂

Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with your finger. Let the bread cool for about 30 minutes(if you can wait!) before cutting.

mmm.... dinner....

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a few more pictures

coconut macaroons

chocolate gingerbread and anise drops

espresso black pepper rounds

I fly home to Canada later this week so I will get my act together and start posting again.

pecan bars

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