Dare to go to Canada and taste the 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 http://www.nanaimo.ca. Thank you Lauren for the challenge and mostly for the fact that it was supposed to be gluten free.

It is not the first time I am doing gluten free cookies. The best part of baking GF cookies is the many many flour combinations you have available. This time I choose amaranth flour, rice flour and and buckwheat.
The bars are not exactly my “piece of cake”. They are not bad, but they are just too heavy.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour) - I used brown rice flour
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour – I used amaranth
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour – I used buckwheat
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
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
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
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.

For 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) – I used 235 g
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped) – I used 100 g
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened) – I skipped it

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 may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
* I made a mango mousseline – recipe at the end

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
* I made a mango chocolate ganache

Directions:
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.

Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:

• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) 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.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
• 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.

For the mango mousseline
205 ml milk
2 egg yolks
35 g sugar
27 g corn starch
100 g mango puree
160 ml whipped cream
4 g gelatin softened in cold water
1/2 vanilla bean

In a small bowl place the gelatin and water and let it bloom until you prepare the rest.
Place the milk and the vanilla bean on medium heat and bring to a boil. In the meantime mix the egg yolks and the sugar. Add the cornstarch and mix well. When the milk is boiling, take it off the heat, remove the bean and scrape the seeds into the milk. Slowly pour the milk over the yolks, whisking continuously. Return to low heat and cook until it thickens. At this point add in the mango puree and cook another 30 seconds or so. Melt the gelatin (in the microwave on LOW or over a pot of boiling water) and immediately add it to the milk – mango mixture. Let it cool to room temperature, and when cool enough add the whipped cream.

For the mango ganache
150 g chocolate chopped
60 g mango puree
30 ml half and half
20 g butter at room temperature

Place the chopped chocolate in a clean dry bowl. Bring the cream and mango puree to a boil and add it to the chocolate. Let stand 1-2 minutes and then stir very gently. When it cools, add the butter and gently fold it in. This is not a very smooth ganache, as you can also see in the photos.

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3 responses to “Dare to go to Canada and taste the Nanaimo Bars

  1. Am mai vazut si ale optiuni, dar nici una nu se compara cu ce ai facut tu !!!!
    Felicitari si ma plec in fata ta!!!! :)))

  2. Your bars look so perfect Anda, love the mango mousseline too.

  3. They look lovely even though you didn’t like them. Mango’s my favourite fruit.
    I only wish I could find gluten-free fours where I live.

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