Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DB - 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

Thanks, Lauren, for selecting a unique baking challenge. My baking horizons have expanded tremendously since joining the Daring Bakers.

Lauren of Celiac Teen gave us the option of baking gluten-free or regular wheat graham wafers. I opted to make the regular flour graham crackers. The cracker dough came together nicely, but I had a lot of trouble cutting and lifting the sticky dough off the rolling surface. In the end I fell back on my sugar cookie method: 1) roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper 2) chill the dough till it is stiff 3) cut out the shapes from the half frozen dough. No mess, no sticking, no problem.

Here is the dough just out of the frig. Stiff as a piece of plywood.

The Nanaimo Bar itself was a little time consuming to assemble, but nothing that a Daring Baker couldn't handle.

The bottom layer was the most involved. The first step was to bake graham wafers/crackers. I've never considered myself a lover of graham crackers, but these things were good. They tasted like thin, crispy honeyed shortbread cookies.

I also cut a few crackers in the shape of Fleurs de lis.

Geaux Saints!!

Next stop Miami and the Super Bowl !!!

Back to the Nanaimo Bars... next the cocoa, butter and sugar where melted together and then an egg was added to the mix as a thickener.

Next add the graham cracker crumbs, nuts and coconut to the chocolate mix.

And dump it all into the pan and let it cool.

The middle layer was a mix of butter, vanilla pudding mix, milk and powdered sugar that was beat until smooth.
I had a little problem spreading the custard layer (it was thick and not at all custard-like), but I just used my fingers to gently push the custard around without disturbing the chocolate crust layer underneath. Added bonus I got to lick all the custard off my fingers.

The top layer was just a thin layer of melted chocolate.

So all-in-all another fun and tasty Daring Baker Challenge, but if I had to describe Nanaimo Bars in one word it would be "sweet". If I make them again I would change a few things to better suit my tastes. For the crust (bottom layer), I would reduce the amount of sugar by half, use unsweetened coconut (sweetened coconut was just too much sugar), and increase the amount of graham cracker crumbs. I would also add some vanilla extract to the custard layer to punch up the flavor.

The recipes selected for Daring Baker's is always interesting and challenging, and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us in February.


  1. i agree with you in cutting down the sweetness :) your nanaimo bars look yummy

  2. I myself use the same method to cut cookies. love that you had so much fun with this challenge.
    great work.

  3. yummmm, your nanaimo bars version looks great!
    Love the presentation
    and the making of pictures are fabulous.
    Great job!
    (also a DB)

  4. I cut down on the sweetness based on a lot of feedbacks on the forum.

  5. You did an amazing job on my challenge! I love the shapes you made with the grahams - very fun =D.