27. siječnja 2010.
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.
I have a confession to make. When I first saw the Nanaimo bars recipe, I freaked out. It seemed like the type of dessert I would never make or enjoy eating. The amounts of butter and sugar in the recipe are ridiculously high by my standards. Don't get me wrong, I love sweets and would live off them if only I could. But I like them light and (preferably, but not necessarily) fluffy, not too rich or very sweet. For a person who reduces the amounts of butter and sugar whenever the recipe allows it, Nanaimo bars seemed like the Ninth Circle of Dante's Inferno - way too sinful and decadent. And since sugar and butter are basically the only two ingredients in the filling, there wasn't really much for me to reduce. Yeah, so now you see why i was freaking out.
For a moment there I was about to give up and not participate in this month's challenge. But then it occurred to me that the Daring Bakers are all about trying out new and different recipes and challenging yourself and your tastes. And boy am I glad I didn't give up! These bars turned out to be a very pleasant surprise indeed. I loved them! As long I didn't think about how high they were on butter and sugar, I was happy. And that's what counts, right?
As far as the recipes are concerned, I didn't have any difficulties. Everything went nice and smooth. I didn't go with the gluten-free version of the crackers though, mainly to cut the costs and save some time looking for the ingredients I might not find in the end. As for the Nanaimo bars, I made two different flavors and shapes. I made coconut vanilla bean cakes and cranberry bars. I chose these particular flavors mainly because I believed they would help cut the sweetness and richness of the bars themselves. I was right. The consistency of the shredded coconut allowed me to reduce the sugar by half and still get a creamy but firm filling. On the other hand, the sour cranberries really made a difference and cut the sweetness and richness of the bars considerably. I was really happy with the results. Instead of the almonds in the bottom layer I used toasted hazelnuts, and instead of the vanilla custard powder I used cornstarch.
To sum up, it was a fun challenge with surprisingly pleasant results. My special thanks goes to Lauren for choosing this recipe and making me try something completely different and new.
Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)*
3/4 cup (100 g) tapioca starch/flour*
1/2 cup (65 g) sorghum flour*
1 cup (200 g) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (80 mL) honey, mild-flavoured such as clover
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) pure vanilla extract
*If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.
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.
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 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.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ 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.
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups (160 g) gluten free graham wafer crumbs (see previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (130 g) shredded coconut
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) vanilla pudding mix (or cornstarch)
2 cups (254 g) icing Sugar
4 ounces (115 g) semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) 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.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.
These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.
The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!