I didn’t know what Nanaimo bars were before this challenge and I’m glad I tried these out because they are really delicious. Very rich, very very rich indeed (and probably too rich for my taste!); you can only have a very small piece at a time. But what’s good about Nanaimo bars is that you can freeze them and keep them for later.
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 www.nanaimo.ca.
THE DARING BAKERS JANUARY 2010 CHALLENGE: NANAIMO BARS
This challenge also required that we make the graham crackers that go in the base of the bars as crumbs. These ones I really like and will be making again. I didn’t make a gluten free cracker though. I just used plain flour that I had on hand. I will give the gluten-free cracker a go next time as some claimed they were nicer than normal ones...Those crackers keep really well in an air-tight jar by the way. They are still crisp after 3 weeks!
I adapted the gluten-free recipe for this challenge by replacing all the gluten flours with plain flour and also veganised it.
2 1/4 cups (300 g) plain flour
1 cup (200 g) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted vegan margarine (cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) maple syrup
5 tablespoons (75 mL) soy milk (or any non-dairy)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) vanilla extract
- In a bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the margarine. Mix by rubbing in until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. No chunks of margarine should be visible.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the maple syrup, soy milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and slightly sticky.
- Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight. (I left mine overnight).
- Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of 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 squares. (I baked the scraps as well because they were going to be crumbs anyway!)
- 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.
- Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
- Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
- When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. (Or I placed some wafers in a large plastic bag, forced all air out, ensured it was properly closed and smashed with a rolling pin until wafers were crumbs.
For the bars, I more or less followed this video by Sarah Kramer. I didn’t make many changes to the vegan recipe. I replaced the flaxseed (to which I am sometimes allergic) by egg-replacer (Allergycare brand that I found here in Dublin) and the nuts by rice crispies.
I also decided to go for a mixed chocolate and custard centre. The idea was to have a marble effect. But this cream just wouldn’t behave the way I wanted it to! So, I ended up with blobs of yellow cream and chocolate cream here and there in the centre and sometimes they just mixed together. Anyway, these bars were delicious but not guilt-free!!! I'm am thinking of trying a lower fat version next time.