Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Baker Challenge: January 2010 - Graham Wafers and 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 You can find your copy of these recipes on the Daring Kitchen website.

I am really excited about this challenge! I've wanted to try to make Nanaimo Bars a number of times, but for one reason or another haven't made them yet. I'm also excited to get to try my hand at making graham wafers -- this should be a FUN challenge. Thanks Lauren for presenting it!

So first -- the Graham Crackers. Highly optimistic I started this endeavor. I originally started to do the GF version as I had all the appropriate flours already on hand. As I added the butter, and after cutting the butter in with the flour, the correct coarse "meal" appeared. After adding the honey, milk, and vanilla to the mixture, I felt confident I was well on my way. Lauren said it would be a wet sticky dough -- boy o boy, she wasn't kidding!

After attempting to roll and pat this out, only to find that I couldn't get it up off the counter in one piece -- in fact it had glued itself to the counter. I hoped it would get resolved as it cooled again in the refridgerator and bundled it up for a chill.

Alas, even after the chill, it was still too sticky to deal with. So back to the mixer it went and I added about 1 more cup of flour to get it to a more appropriate state.

After the addition of more flour it was much easier to deal with, although still quite sticky and fragile. To expedite the process, I cut the crackers out with a 4 inch English Muffin mold. This worked fairly well but has resulted in round Graham Crackers. C'est la vie!
Here's hoping that home-made graham crackers are worth the effort or this is a one-time only adventure. :)

Now for the tasting -- pretty good. I'm still not sure it's worth the effort everyday, but the flavors and textures are nothing like the store-bought version. Definately worth doing at least once in a lifetime.

By comparison to the Graham Crackers, the Nanaimo Bars were easy! Just three no-bake layers, and chilling time. The fact that I still lack a double boiler meant that I had to haul out the pyrex bowl over the sauce pan again (honestly that's the fifth time in the last month and a half!). I decided toasting the almonds and coconut would be prudent before I added them to the mixture so set about doing just that.

I had to try the tempering process I've seen a few times as I added the egg into the hot chocolate and didn't want it scrambled. (It worked!) There was a small moment of concern when I realized halfway through the second layer that I had left the Graham Crackers out of the first layer. But no worries, scooped it back into a bowl, re-softened the chocolate mixture and added in the Graham Crackers -- that made it look more like it should have to begin with.

Layer two was uneventful -- but yummy bowl scrapings to be had. Layer 3 needed to cool a little longer than I gave it as it was difficult to spread since it kept melting layer 2. But in the end, it got spread and stuck in the refrigerator to cool.

The taste is divine and the Nanaimo challenge one worth repeating -- although next time with store bought Graham Crackers.

The challenge was lots of fun and I'm looking forward to next month's challenge. Thanks again Lauren!
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