Archive for the ‘Bars’ Category

Macadamia Nut and Coconut Bars


Extravagant. That is the word to describe these. Lots of Macadamia nuts, coconut, butter and brown sugar. Divine could certainly also be used to describe these. Be warned, you will not be able to stop at one….

 This will make 32 bars

Bottom Layer

1/2 C (4 oz) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

Beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until mixed. Beat in the egg and salt, and then, on low-speed, add the flour and beat only until incorporated.

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan as described earlier in Creole Pecan Bars. Then take the 1 tablespoon of butter and put it in the pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter melts. Then, spread the butter all over the bottom and sides of the pan with a crumpled piece of plastic wrap and put the pan in the freezer or fridge until you are ready to put in the base.

Scatter the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and spread it our with your fingertips (It will be necessary to reflour your fingertips often).Form an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, until set. Remove the pan from the oven but do not turn it off.

Top Layer

1 1/2 C (7 oz) salted macadamia nuts
2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C packed light brown sugar
2 C (6 ounces) packed sweetened shredded coconut

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Beat in the sifted ingredients. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the coconut (reserve the remaining coconut) and the nuts.

Use a spoon and place the mixture evenly on top of the bottom layer (It’s okay if it is still warm from baking). With the back of the spoon, spread it into a smooth even layer (it will be thin). Sprinkle on the balance of the coconut.

Bake for 25 minutes, until it is a nice golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Then flip it over, using another cookie sheet, peel off the foil, then flip it back over.

Place it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or in the freezer for an hour before cutting into slices for a clean cut.

Source: Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies


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Creole Pecan Praline Bars

I make this recipe every year and it is always a hit. They look so pretty with all of the pecans lined up in a row and the sweet buttery taste is really divine. It has a shortbread base, covered with pecans and a praline like topping. Yum….This comes from one of my favorite cookie books, Maida Heatter’s Brand New Book Of Great Cookies, and I will try to post up as many recipes as I can this season. I have already made a handful of them already, I just find it so hard to find the time to sit down at the computer and type them out. ‘Tis the season you know (you know, where there never seems to be enough time). So let the baking begin my friends….

First off, prepare a 9 x 13 by 2 inch baking pan. Maida uses this method for almost all of her bar cookie recipes and I use it for all of mine, especially brownies. It makes getting the finished cookies out of  the pan super easy and there is virtually no clean-up afterwards. Take your pan and flip it upside down. Cut a piece of tin foil large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Center the foil (shiny side down) over the upside down pan and press it down on the sides and corners to shape the foil to fit in the pan. Remove the foil and set aside. Put some water into the pan to wet the bottom; pour out the excess. Then place the foil (shiny side up) into the pan and press in into the bottom and sides.


1/2 C (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 C packed light brown sugar
2 C sifted all-purpose flour
9 ounces (2 1/2 C) large pecan halves

3/4 C (6 oz) unsalted butter
1/3 C packed light brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Make the Base:
Beat together the butter, salt and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add the flour and beat for 2 more minutes, until the ingredients form tiny crumbs that will hold together when you press them between your fingers. Turn it out into your prepared pan (see above). Spread the mixture into an even layer, using your fingers/hands to press down on the mixture to form a compact layer.
Place the pecan halves on top with each one touching each other- flat sides down- all in the same direction so it looks all nice and pretty. Set this aside while you make the topping.
Make the topping:
In a medium saucepan, place the butter and sugar. Stir over high heat until it comes to a boil. Keep stirring at a boil for 30 more seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the hot mixture over the pecan base, trying to coat the entire surface.
Bake for 22 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely. refrigerate for at least one hour. Cover with a larger cookie sheet, flip over to release, peel off the foil then flip it back over onto a cutting board.
Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cake into quarters. Then cut each piece in half, then cut each piece into 4 strips- or into tinier pieces if you wish.
Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.These keep very well in the freezer but must come back to room temperature before serving.

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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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