Daring Baker’s Challenge January: Nanaimo Bars

January 27, 2010 at 12:00 am | Posted in Daring Bakers, Dessert | 13 Comments

Well when I read the name of these babies, I had no idea what that corresponded to! But actually, they are a hot mess of chocolate, graham cracker and sugar! Laurita loved them and everyone seem to enjoy their serving when I doled it out on Saturday to some of my buddies. But I really thought the middle layer was too sweet. It was really cool making my own graham crackers- I didn’t do it gluten free though because the cost of buying those different flours swayed me away and I have two sacks of whole wheat flour in my pantry that I had yet to touch- so whole wheat it was!!!


Laurita took that lovely picture of the bar. I was being lazy and didn’t feel like getting up from the dinner table and wow shes such a good photographer! She is starting her student teaching this week so I hope that this dessert will help calm her after her new long days. Welcome to the real world sister bear!!

I love making layered desserts- seems so much fancier and interesting to me! I substituted more almonds and marshmallow bits for the coconut part of the bottom layer since I detest it so much! And I thought that was a good substitution.

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. Check out some more pictures below and the recipe!

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract


1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.


Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Check out the rest of my DB posse here!!


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  1. great….i too used ww flour

  2. […] Daring Baker's Challenge January: Nanaimo Bars « strawberries in paris […]

  3. Your graham crackers are perfect! and I love the cookie monster shot 🙂

    • thanks Beth. My friend Jes bought that CM for a toy drive and liked it so much she got one for herself! it makes funny noises when you shake it. Priceless!

  4. The Cookie Monster shot is a riot!

    • Glad to help your hump day be merry!

  5. Here it is! http://www.blueberryfiles.com/2010/01/daring-bakers-challenge-nanaimo-bars.html

    Yeah, not so much on the Nanaimo bars, huh? I’m gonna make some homemade marshmallows to go with my homemade grahams!

  6. Quite creative with the marshmallow substituion. Great job and what a cute photo at the end. Cookie Monster!

  7. First of all, I’ll say this: Your blog has by far the cutest name/layout EVER. So, so pretty. And strawberries do never taste as good as they do in Paris. (:

    Secondly – your nanaimo bars looks delicious. 😀

  8. I love the idea of the marshmallow – though extra sweetness might kill me! Your crackers look great too.

  9. Great job on your Nanaimo Bars! They look great, and it looks like Cookie Monster wants some, too! 🙂 I was worried about the middle layer being too sweet, too, so I cute down the sugar by 1/2 and I think it turned out great! Not that they aren’t super rich and sweet as it is, but they are fab in small doses! And with a glass of milk!!

  10. I agree with the middle layer being too sweet–but your bars look delicious and especially the graham crackers (that was my favorite part). 🙂

  11. […] onion toasts, a nice salad with blue cheese, pears, and walnuts, and finished it off with the nanaimo bars + some Breyer’s vanilla with reduced sugared […]

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