Nanaimo Bars

I love the idea of expanding my horizons and trying new things. Daring Bakers encourages me to do just that.

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

The graham cracker recipe I used is from 101 Cookbooks. Here it is. My notes and changes are Purple

Graham Cracker Recipe

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour. I did not use the additional 2 TBS
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen. I used 3.5oz margerine since we need to be dairy- free.
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk I used coconut milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Mine was not very sticky at all. I am nut sure why. Here is what it looked like.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Yield: 10 large crackers

Maybe I made mine too thin but it made many more. I only cooked them for 20 minutes and they still came out burned. We only made a half batch in the squares and did the rest as cutout cookies. Making the crackers was a neat experience and a fun challenge but not worth the work for the results.

Here is the recipe for the bars themselves. I used margarine in place of the butter and this in place of the cream. The flavor of the middle layer left much to be desired. The bottom layer was neat and interesting. It held together and provided a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

I tried the whole recipe again with store-bought graham crackers and jam in place of the pudding mix as a flavor alternative for the middle layer. I used 4 tablespoons of mixed berry Jam in place of the pudding mix. It was much better but still not something that we really enjoy. I suspect a huge part of the problem is the flavor of the non-dairy butter. Some recipes shine dairy-free and some do not do as well in translation. I suspect this is one that just does not work for us.


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