I am writing this blog after only being back in Sydney for 3 hours, after a total of 20 hours flying time from New York and with the flu, but as this is my first Darling Bakers’ Challenge it was important for me to get it up on time (it’s still the 27th in the USA).
For those of you who don’t know what the Daring Bakers are, they are a group of like minded people who stand up to a set baking challenge each month hosted on The Darling Kitchen website. I have also joined up to the Daring Cooks group as well on this site, but yet to face my first challenge.
Sooo with much jet lag let me share with you how I went with my first challenge……….. The Nanaimo Bar.
Nanaimo bars are a Canadian dessert and are apparently very popular and available everywhere in Canada.
The challenge was hosted by Lauren ofCeliac Teen, who is celiac and can’t digest gluten. The idea was to make the Graham Wafers used in this recipe gluten free, but you were give the option to make the run of the mill ones if you desired. As I had Christmas, New Year and a few other things to deal with before hopping on a plane to the States, I took the easy way and used the following provided recipe for my graham crackers.
2.5 cups plain flour
1c dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
1t baking soda
100g (7T) cold unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
1/3c honey (mild flavour)
75ml (5T) milk
30ml (2T) vanilla extract
- Place flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a food processor, pulse to combine. Add chopped butter and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs (I actually used the rub method my hand at this stage). Put flour mixture into a large bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk to combine, honey, milk and vanilla. Then add this to the flour mixture until it barely comes together (it is really sticky).
- Put mixture onto a well floured surface (they suggested sweet rice flour, I used normal flour) form into a 2.5cm thick rectangle, wrap in plastic and place in fridge for a few hours of over night (I went for the overnight option as it was stinking hot here).
- Take dough out of fridge and divide into two portions, place one portion in the fridge and roll the other portion out so it is roughly 2mm thick. Cut dough into bout 7cm x 7cm sized squares and place on lined baking tray. At this point in time they suggest the trays should be placed into the fridge for 30 – 45 minutes before baking, but as I was short on time they went straight into the oven.
- Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes (suggested time was 25 minutes but this was just too long) until they are brown and slightly firm. Take out of oven and place on cooling rack. Continue with rest of mixture until all crackers are cooked.
Next it was on to making the Nanaimo Bars themselves. This actually happened the following day.
1/2c unsalted butter
1/4c granulated sugar (I used caster)
5T unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg beaten
1 1/4c crushed graham wafers
1/2c finely chopped almonds
1c shredded coconut
- Melt butter with sugar and cocoa over a double boiler. Add the egg and stir until it thickens slightly. Take mixture off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Press mixture into a 20cm x 20cm tin. Put it into the fridge while completing the next stage.
1/2c unsalted butter
2.5T heavy cream
2T vanilla custard powder
2c icing sugar
- Cream all the ingredients together and then spread over the base. Put it back in the fridge while completing the top layer.
115g semi sweet chocolate (I used old gold as that is what I use, love the taste!!)
2T unsalted butter
- Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, double boiler (or in microwave), then let it cool slightly before spreading over the middle layer. Place back in the fridge to chill.
Fell in love with the Graham Wafers, I will make these again and again, they are just so delicious, crunchy honey tasty yumm! Beware though the dough is hard to work with in extreme heat, my suggestion is if you are going to make them, make sure it is a cool day.
The nanaimo bars themselves are not really my cup of tea. The tribe ate them, but I found them just way too sweet for my taste, even Junior found them sweet, now that is saying something. The base is lovely and the chocolate top layer is self explanatory. Maybe if the middle layer was not so thick as it turned out on mine (maybe if I used 1/2 or 1/3 the mixture?) it would be not as sweet and make the slice more appealing.
All in all I really enjoyed my first challenge, even though it was a bit of a rush job and did not get the TLC it deserved.
Thanks Lauren for a wonderful challenge.