Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh, Canada

Bet you didn’t see this post coming, eh? (Ouch sorry). It’s my somewhat triumphant return to the world of Daring Bakers and it’s with a deliciously simple Nanaimo Bar recipe from the land of maple trees, snow, and hockey (which incidentally sounds exactly like Cornell). It comes highly recommended by all who ate it (namely everyone in my studio). It was so good and so “architecturally inspirational” that my studio professor took one bit and then ordered us all to sketch the now-mangled Canadian dessert. Don’t expect any posts of my less than spectacular art skills, but you should expect plenty of happy faces for whoever you make them for.

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

Now upon reading my recipe, you may notice that there is no gluten-free component. That is on purpose. It’s not that I’m hating on anyone who can’t eat gluten, it’s really because of a major time and money crunch that doing the graham cracker thing would have delayed this post to the point of extinction. That, and one of my dear friends was recently diagnosed with a nasty allergy to gluten and everything else tasty so I’ve already tried my hand at gluten-alternative flours with dense results. That’s potentially for another post, once I’ve figured out the logistics. Someday. Please visit lots of other Daring Bakers for their gluten-free-graham adventures, yay!

This recipe is easy. No baking involved, actually. I managed to pull it off with a hot pot, a bowl, a spatula, and one 8x8 baking pan. And it was delightful.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa with delicious results)
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (use the gluten free graham cracker recipe here if you’d like)
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut

Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a double boiler and heat until melted. Slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the beaten egg, whisking constantly until thickened. This is important as other recipes may suggest that you add the beaten egg to the mixture – I prefer this way to make doubly sure that my egg doesn’t cook. Chocolate scrambled eggs do not a good Nanaimo bar make. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press the mixture firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ baking pan. It will make a lovely “architectural composite material” when cut according to my professor so really press the heck out of that sucker, it packs down pretty well.

Middle Layer

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp vanilla pudding powder
2 cups icing sugar
Cream together the butter, cream, vanilla pudding powder and icing sugar until light. Spread over bottom layer.
Top Layer
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat. Once it’s melted take it off the heat and just let it chill on the counter while you do dishes and steal bits of the delicious pudding-buttercream middle layer, the cooling took a while for me. Once cool but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator until set, about an hour.
Cut into squares using a knife dipped in hot water. I just cut it with a knife and it turned out fine, but a suggestion I saw for easier (and neater) pieces was to dip the pan very briefly in hot water and then turn out onto a plate. Flip over using a second plate and cut into squares.

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Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries January 29, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

Welcome back to the Daring Bakers'! Your Nanaimo bars look so perfect! I want to see the sketches! :)

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