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.
Lauren chose these Canadian favorite bars in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics!
Although the challenge was suppose to be gluten-free, I didn’t want to go to the extra expense of all the non-gluten flours that I probably wouldn’t use again, so I made my Graham Wafers with Whole Wheat Flour or Graham Flour as many would expect to use.
I whipped out the food processor and zapped all the ingredients for the graham wafers together. I split the dough into 2 balls and refrigerated the dough overnight. The next day I rolled out the dough onto a Sil-pat and then transferred the Sil-Pat to the baking sheet. The dough was VERY sticky and even stuck to my new silicone rolling pin.
I trimmed the wafer dough with my quilting rotary trimmer and cut them into cracker size pieces.
I then punctured the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Off to the refrigerator they went again and then to the oven they went for what was suppose to be 25 minutes. YEAH, suppose to be 25 minutes because one of my little helpers used the microwave and turned off the timer while they were heating up a slice of pizza. So, I suddenly smelled something burning and remembered, OH MY the GRAHAM WAFERS!!! TOO late, Lori! So, now all of my hard work and time was GONE! I didn’t remake the wafers, I just used the store bought ones to complete the rest of the challenge.
For the Nanaimo Bars it was too easy to assemble these. I was glad since I had already been through the trouble of making the Graham Wafers that I couldn’t even end up using! For the first layer I just added the butter, sugar, cocoa to a double boiler that I melted together and then beat in an egg. I added this mixture to graham wafer crumbs, almonds that were finely chopped and some coconut.
The second layer was simple also. It consisted of butter, heavy cream, custard powder (which I had thanks to my British neighbor, Caroline!) and then some confectionary sugar all mixed together.
I smoothed this over the crust layer and then prepared the top chocolate layer.
The top layer was just melted chocolate and butter. I poured over the 2 layers and smoothed out.
Notes for Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring 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.
• 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.
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.
Graham Wafers Recipe:
2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat 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-flavored such as clover
5 tablespoons Whole Milk
2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, 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 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 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.
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more 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 of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large zip lock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
Nanaimo Bars Recipe:
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups Icing Sugar
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
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 color. 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.