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Daring Bakers: 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 she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

The best thing about this challenge was the side-challenge of the graham cracker recipe. They blow the store-bought ones out of the water. The second-best thing about this challenge was the relative ease of the recipe. After a grueling month of parties and ridiculous cooking feats, it was comforting to have a relatively simple bar cookie recipe. And it was no-bake! I don’t think I have ever crammed that much butter into so small a space, but it was fun and I did it on a weeknight.

I made the graham cracker pastry one day of the long New Year’s weekend and then rolled it out and baked the crisps on another day of it during such a bitterly cold day that I didn’t feel I was wasting the day by staying inside. The original recipe given was gluten-free but since I will probably never use those flours again and I hate to waste food, I used all wheat flour. The original is always the best. I also used something else from my pantry and instead of buying mildly flavored clover honey, I used some expensive Italian forest honey. It isn’t mildly flavored, but it was between that and my cherished jar of chestnut honey. It wasn’t a close battle. During the baking of the crackers, I discovered that a) I sucketh mightily in measuring dough, b) can’t cut in a straight line to save my life, c) my oven heats unevenly and c) none of that mattered. The crisps were delicious. Three days after making them and becoming afraid I’d eat and distribute too many to make the bars themselves, I forced myself to pulverise some of them to smithereens.

The bars themselves got made on a day off work after spending another long day at my favorite coffee bar in the history of humanity. This recipe had a lot of ingredients and a little of them like a few tablespoons of heavy cream, pudding mix, almonds, an egg, chocolate powder, a couple of different sugars, and a huge, disgusting amount of butter. The bars were done in an hour and I chilled them well before cutting them with a sharp paring knife. I allowed myself to eat and photograph one of them before packing up the rest for work. I got 36 out of the pan. I’ve never gotten so many bars out of a pan that small but I couldn’t imagine making them any bigger.

As far as tastes are concerned, I adored the graham cracker recipe and I will be making those again though next time I may not bother cutting them at all and just baking two full sheets and rolling a pizza cutter through them a few minutes into the process. Measuring is for people who scrapbook. Seriously. They were amazing, though and I may get a straight rolling pin just for the purpose (I have the tapered kind since I usually make tarts). The use of good honey didn’t go to waste.

As far as the bars themselves are concerned, they were kind of fun to make but used a lot of dishes. The washing up was a bore, what with the bain marie, the mixer, a saucepan, and several spatulas getting used and that’s not counting what I needed to use to chop chocolate and almonds. They also had a lot of ingredients, including somewhat weird things I may never use again. Like the organic pudding mix I got at Whole Foods that will now rot in my pantry since my brain will hurt too much when trying to figure out how much to decrease the milk to make the box as stated. The heavy cream will also languish in my fridge. I may be able to use it in a soup or if in doubt, freeze it. The bars were too sweet for my tastes but the people at work *loved* them. Someone said the one she had eaten was the best thing she had eaten in her life.

Now back to the big project at hand…

Note: Picture quality is very poor since I’m still learning my way around this phone. I can’t be bothered with the big camera except for big things anymore.

One Response to “Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars”

  1. 1
    ap269:

    I also adored the graham cracker recipe. I opted for the gluten-free version and thought it was heavenly. Even though we are not on a gluten-free diet, these flours will be used up for making Graham crackers again – that’s for sure!

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