Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mocha Hazelnut 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

Chocolate * Vanilla * Mocha * Hazelnut

Tackling the first part of this month's two part challenge I began by making the graham crackers from which I concluded the obviously recurring issue: this apartment is too small!  It just so happened that I was making these at prime dinner time so I decided to quickly whip up some eggs and toast a bagel. Carelessly, I left the burner on so you can imagine my confusion when I knew I had already removed the last batch of graham crackers and I smelled something burning... I thought to myself: This is impossible, what now?! - and there they were, my graham crackers had burned in a perfectly circular shape from the red hot electric coils beneath the cookie sheet. Had I enough counter space in this place I would have placed the cookie sheet anywhere but on top of the oven all together avoiding the scenario. (okay, I admit I should have been more cautious) But, instead I was left with a burnt cookie sheet and tossed half of my graham crackers :( 

Nibbling on what was left of my graham crackers I decided these were absolutely delicious! My roommate thought they tasted just like the "real thing" (from a box) which is sweet but we all know that made from scratch food is actually the real deal! Smile

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers

Note: I was not able to make the gluten free version of these wafers but I hope to try it one day. I used the original recipe that called for 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs AP flour.

1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed  (I used light brown and it worked beautifully)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) 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 (I used skim, not a problem)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
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.
 Tip: Spray your measuring cup with non-stick spray before measuring out any sticky liquid such as honey or molasses. It pours right out!

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.

A note about cooking time: Since I made these graham crackers with regular AP flour the time it took to bake the graham crackers was nearly half that instructed in the recipe. I've never baked gluten free so it might have something to do with the different types of flour used but below you can see it took me a few tries to get the baking time right. 12 minutes worked perfectly for me. At 14 minutes they were still a little brown around the edges.

As though the burnt cracker fiasco was not enough I had unknowingly included my own personal addition to this month's challenge when making artisan bread the other day.  In the event that I managed to explode my only 8x8 inch dish so I had to make my own 8x8 dish to nestle these bars. I resorted to using a brownie pan, bread pan, and some aluminum  foil.  And yes, an exploding dish is just as scary as it sounds. 

Part of making this bread is pouring warm water into an empty dish preheated in the oven for 20 minutes. I used the smallest I had which was a Pyrex glass baking dish. - I had done this before the exact same way but this time the heat shock was apparently too much. A loud booming noise and a storm steam and flying glass escaped the oven. This was enough to convince me that the term oven-proof-glass-dish is not synonymous to rapid-temperature-change-tolerant. Luckily, no harm was done but cleaning an oven full of glass shards was not really too much fun either.  

In the end, making my own dish actually worked out great. All I had to do was lift the bread pan out of the end of the brownie pan and I was left with an open edge where I could easily use a spatula to remove the nanimo bars. Yay! A trouble-free way to remove the first piece without messing it up Smile  I might just continue using the make your own 8x8 method. Things happen for a reason.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped) ** I used hazelnuts
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix or corn starch may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
**You can experiment with different flavors by adding extracts or purees
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
** I added 1 packet of instant espresso - YUM!
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.

Nutritional Info: (makes 28 bars)
Calories 169, Fat 11.2g, Carbs 17.1, Protein 1.3
Vitamin A 5%,  Iron 3%,  Calcium 1%,


Biren said...

Those Nanaimo bars look yummy! I have only eaten them once in Canada. I am not sure if I have seen them here. Gotta make some soon.

Looks like you had quite an "adventure" in the kitchen :)

Cookie Kelly said...

Looks great! (I burnt some of my graham crackers too. I should have known not to trust cooking times).

Lauren said...

You did such a great job on my challenge! I'm sorry about the troubles, but it all turned out well in the end =D.

Karina said...

These look Great! Thanks for commenting on my blog. I will be following you.

Stella said...

Hi Chantal, these look like a lot of work! I noticed all the daring bakers with their pretty photos of this Canadian treat. My mothers side is Canadian, and I have never even had them...Anyway, they look delicious!

If your'e in the mood for something easier after all that work, take a look at my most recent North African cookie post...

Alison said...

Hi Chantal! I'm a fellow Daring Baker located in Charlotte as well. I saw mention of your blog on a Meetup site. Nice to meet you!