Cinnamon Cardamom Grahams and Bittersweet Chocolate Pistachio Nanaimos

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

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.

Second Layer
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.

Third Layer
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.

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23 Responses to “Cinnamon Cardamom Grahams and Bittersweet Chocolate Pistachio Nanaimos”

  1. Julia @ Mélanger Says:

    I adore cardamom and love how you put that in your Graham crackers. What a great idea to use the Gingerbread from the last challenge. I actually just baked off all my scraps – save re-rolling a million times – and used that for my bars. It was all mis-shaped, but it didn’t matter!

  2. Susan at SGCC Says:

    I love all of your tweaks! The pistachio pudding sounds like it would be wonderful in these. Well done!

  3. Cakelaw Says:

    Your nanaimo bars turned out fab! Love your choice of flavours.

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Says:

    Your Nanaimo bars look delicious! 😀 hehe that’s a great idea using the gingerbread cookies! There was so much made for the gingerbread house! 😀

  5. Lauren Says:

    I think this is the first post I’ve seen with an adaptation on the wafers! I also love what you did with the Nanaimos – both versions sound very cool =D. You did a sensational job on my challenge!

  6. Bake in Paris Says:

    The pistachio green layer makes the whole bar look so beautiful. It is a distinctive combination. Great job!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  7. shaz Says:

    So many sensational ideas here. i am a big fan of cardamom, so I was smitten by the title alone..then reading about compost cookies (new to me), so exciting! Great job 🙂

  8. pragmaticattic Says:

    Julia: Thanks! I was thinking about you as I added the cardamom.
    Susan: Thanks! The tweaks really did cut down on the sweetness.
    Thanks Cakelaw, Lorraine Sawadee and Shaz! The gingerbread idea was from someone on the DB forums (I forget who). And thanks for noticing about the compost cookie, Shaz.

  9. annmartina Says:

    Pistachio . . . that sounds divine! Thank you for all the great flavoring ideas for the crackers and the bars. Darn, I’ve been wondering what to do with my gingerbread structure. I haven’t been able to bring myself to break it up yet.

  10. pragmaticattic Says:

    Thanks Annmartina! But, please, share where you got that amazing cutter!

  11. MrsWheelbarrow Says:

    Yum! I love the idea of the pistachio/cardamom combo. And your bars look so pretty in the photo. (Not squishy like mine)

  12. Winnie Says:

    Love the flavors here- these must be delish! Very pretty green too!

  13. lisamichele Says:

    Adding cinnamon and cardamom to the graham crackers was a fantastic idea, and bittersweet chocolate is the perfect foil for the cloyingly sweet Nanaimo bars. Why didn’t I think of that? LOL Your bars are gorgeous!

    That said, regarding the color of my filling, green food color, my friend, green food color 🙂 I forgot to add that to my entry. Thanks for pointing it out! 😀

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks, Lisa! LOL. ah, yes, food coloring . . . You got such a nice color I was almost wondering if it was natural.

  14. Valerie Says:

    Using gingerbread and pistachio must have added a whole new dimension of flavour! Very creative job on this challenge, way to go!

  15. zorra Says:

    Love the idea to add spices to the dough! Well done!

  16. Madam Chow Says:

    Yours look great. I ended up serving mine on the side with some pudding.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks, Madam Chow! I like your idea of serving the crackers with pudding. So smart. I wish I had thought of that.

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