You may remember from my Tofu Satay post, that I’ve joined an online cooking challenge: The Daring Cooks. The group cooks a new (and shhh… secret) recipe every month, and forms a community around cooking the same recipe. They also have a baking group: The Daring Bakers. And I am hooked… this month was also my first challenge, and in honour of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada, we’ve made a traditional Canadian dessert.
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.
And you know what? These are amazing. All of the effort was worth it, and the graham crackers (maybe with a little less sweetness?) will be a new staple around here. You know they’re good, as the only photo I managed to grab was of half a cookie.
My absolute favourite part of these Nanaimo bars are the bottom layer: coconut, almond, graham cracker, and chocolate. Oh yes, yum.
Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bars
- Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
- Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.
- Food Processor
- Parchment paper or Silpat
- Cookie sheets
- Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
- 8 by 8 inch square pan
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
Part A) Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
- 1 c. glutinous rice flour (which despite the name, is gluten-free!)
- 3/4 c. tapioca starch/flour
- 1/2 c. sorghum flour
- 1 c. raw sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 7 Tbsp. (100 g) unsalted butter (cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
- 1/3 c. honey
- 5 Tbsp. milk (skim, soy, almond, rice)
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, 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.
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.
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. (I chilled for 2 hours, but next time will chill overnight — it will make life SO much easier!)
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. (And work quickly, or your dough will melt a bit and stick to the counter). 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. You will need more flour than you think: The dough will be very sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 x 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment- or Silpat-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 350F.
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.
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. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) 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.
You will have more graham wafers than you need for the nanaimo bars, so you can enjoy them as cookies. The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Part B) Nanaimo Bars
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- 1/4 c. raw sugar
- 5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/4 c. Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
- 1/2 c. almonds (finely chopped, I used the food processor)
- 1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. milk
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (I used Bird’s)
- 2 c. icing sugar
- 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted Butter
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.
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well (easiest in a mixer, you get a workout if you do it by hand). Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
Once chilled (preferably overnight), cut into teeny squares (these are really rich!) and serve. These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.