Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Graham Crackers

Daring bakers: Graham Crackers/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

 The graham crackers were easy to make, but you need chilling time. They were so worth the effort, I may never buy graham crackers again. I did not make the gluten free recipe, I used  what I had on hand, whole wheat pastry flour. These were crispy and sweet, so perfect with  a glass of milk. If you want the gluten free recipe, visit the  The Daring Kitchen. or Lauren's blog.
Graham Cracker Recipe
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
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
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping: I omitted the topping
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. I used a fork
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway

 After we made are cracker, the next part of the challenge was to make Nanaimo Bars, a classic Canadian cookie/bar.  We are very lucky to have Canadian friends who have supplied us with Nanaimo bars for the past 14 years. As delicious as these bars are, I have never tried to make my own. I didn't want to jinx it, you know if you make your own, other people stop giving them to you.  I f you haven't had Nanaimo bars, they are a lovely combination of graham cracker crumbs, coconut, nuts  and chocolate in the crust, followed  by a custard buttercream  and topped by a thin layer of chocolate. A rich and decadent treat for sure. 

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) I used pecans
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.

Thank You Lauren for introducing us to both of theses fantastic recipes.

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