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 www.nanaimo.ca.
This month’s DB challenge has two parts: (1) making homemade graham crackers, and (2) using the crushed crumbs to make Nanaimo Bars.
Homemade Graham Crackers (with a hint of cardomom in the cinnamon sugar topping):
The graham cracker recipe on 101 Cookbooks is taken from Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000). I also took a look at Smitten Kitchen’s blog posting about these cookies and used the metric measurements that Deb supplied.
Heidi at 101 Cookbooks states that the yield for this recipe is 10 large cookies (4″x4.5″). I rolled the dough quite thin and was able to get 20 cookies (3″x6″). I used an index card (3″x5″, with another card taped on to make it an inch longer) as a template for cutting the cookies. I think that I should have cut down the card to 2 1/2″ x 5″ for smaller cookies.
Other tweaks: I swapped 100 g. of all purpose flour for the same weight of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour; light brown sugar instead of dark (that is what I had around the house); corn oil instead of butter; vanilla soy milk instead of dairy milk; 1/4 tsp. cardamom added to the sugar topping along with the cinnamon.
My baking time was 12-15 minutes.
The taste was very close to store bought crackers. Cutting room temperature oil into the flour instead of cold butter worked like a charm.
Now, as for the Nanaimo bars . . . I couldn’t bear to crush up my hand crafted graham crackers, so I used crushed up leftover gingerbread house pieces. Someone on the DB forums mentioned doing this, and the idea is sheer genius. It works perfectly. The gingerbread crumbs are even more graham cracker crumb-like than the homemade grahams for some reason.
My tweaks: extra bittersweet chocolate for the topping; pistachio pudding mix instead of custard powder; and a little extra cocoa. I also experimented with adding some coffee grounds (like the compost cookies from the Momofuku Milk Bar that Anna and Greg talk about that combine chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pretzels, potato chips, and used coffee grounds with chocolate chip cookie dough), but the flavor and texture were next to unnoticeable (you would think 1 Tbl. coffee grounds in a half recipe of Nanaimo bars would stand out, right?).
Half Recipe Extra Bittersweet Chocolate Pistacio Nanaimo Bars in 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ panBottom Layer
4 Tbl. Land O’ Lakes butter
4Tbl. powdered sugar
3-4 Tbl. cocoa
2 tsp. egg white powder
3/4 cup graham wafer crumbs (gingerbread crumbs)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1 Tbl. used coffee grounds
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, egg white powder, coconut, coffee grounds, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan and refrigerate.
3 Tbl. unsalted butter
1 ½ Tbl. orange juice or cream or milk
1 Tbl. Pistachio pudding mix
1 cup powdered sugar
Cream butter, cream, pudding mix, and powdered sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer and refrigerate to harden before adding chocolate glaze.
1 ½ ounces 86% chocolate and ½ ounce chocolate chips
1 Tbl. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Score the chocolate into serving sized bars before it has completely set.
I tried the compost cookie concept again with another batch of bars that included pretzels, potato chips, coffee grounds, and butterscotch chips. They were tasty in a super-charged sugar jolt kind of way, but very messy to cut. Not photogenic.