Sunday, February 7, 2010

Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

So... apparently when your job is short a few people and you are the assistant manager you wind up working over forty hours each week and then all you do is sleep and go to work. And then you remember days past the due date of the Daring Bakers Challenge Reveal that you never put it up.

I'm bad at this thing. Ugh.

However.... guess what?

I actually liked the resulting bars from this challenge. Weird, right? I never like the results. Except for the pizza... that was good. Anyway.

I had heard of Nanaimo Bars before the challenge, I had just never made them or had them. I'd seen recipes.. they just didn't sound appealing to me. I'm not sure why since I love coconut and I think anything can be made better with a graham cracker crust. Oh, well. I'm a believer now.

What are these bars? And why are they so difficult to pronounce? (I shouldn't complain... I lived in Hueneme, after all. Yeah. Try pronouncing that.) Nanaimo. Nuh-Nigh-Moe.

They are bars consisting of a chocolate-y, cooconut, almond, graham cracker crust, a "custard" middle (it's frosting... just call it that), and chocolate topping.

They were mouthgasmic. I could not stop eating them. Neither could my co-worker. Or my mom.

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

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)
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 may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) 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 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.

I did not make gluten free graham crackers. Just regular ones.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Little House on the Big Blue Mat, Or: I Make Gingerbread Houses Cry.

Christmastime brings about gingerbread houses galore. There are kits in grocery stores, there are competitions, there are days at home spent constructing the houses only to be devoured shortly after.

And then there's me.

I never was one for gingerbread houses. Or gingerbread men, for that matter. I never liked the icing. I never liked ginger. Sure, I might have had fun decorating them as a kid (the men, not the houses; the houses frustrated me) but I never did eat them. I was also a kid who did not like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. I would pick out the marshmallows and eat only the cereal.

So you can understand why I was less than enthusiastic about this month's Daring Baker's challenge. Gingerbread houses? Are you kidding me? Gross. But I carried on and figured I'd do it later. Ha. I didn't remember about it until Friday. Yeah. So Saturday, I scaled down the recipe. Replaced the ginger with cinnamon. Made the dough. And then forgot about it until eight o' clock tonight. Only because I saw the dough in the fridge when I was putting my salsa away.

I rolled out my dough. Cut some shapes. Enough shapes for two houses. Chilled them. Baked them. Cut them. Quickly threw together the given royal icing recipe. And then I assembled them. They stayed. Woo.... I guess. I just needed them to stay long enough for pictures to be taken. Then I thickened up the icing with more sugar to decorated the outside of the houses. I was in the middle of making a parchment paper cone when.... the first house crumpled into a heap of molasses-tasting rectangles. Molasses is gross, by the way. I don't know if you knew that. I didn't. I'd never used it before. I do now, though.

Anyway. So I randomly piped icing onto the house and took pictures. I really didn't care at all. It made the house cry. I wonder if it's crumpled yet...?

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I'd give you the recipe, but I'm lazy. And I don't want it anymore, so. Yeah.