Daring Bakers January 2010 Challenge: The World Comes to Canada

Recipe: 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 www.nanaimo.ca


I really enjoyed this month’s challenge as Nanaimo Bars are not something I have heard of before here in England. Although one of the optional challenges was to use Gluten-Free flour, I used regular flour in my crackers as GF would have been cost prohibitive for me. I look forward to trying gluten free baking in the future, though.


The crackers were made completely in the food processor and were therefore extremely quick to make. They are also delicious and are what Americans use for cheesecake bases where we would use digestive biscuits or gingernuts or something.




Once the beautiful, perfectly angled crackers were finished, I DESTROYED THEM to make the base for the Nanaimo Bars together with roasted hazelnuts.


HAHAHAHAHA I win again, puny crackers.


After mixing with the ingredients for the base, and pressing into a tin, I made the middle buttercream layer (but added a shot of Frangelico to continue the hazelnut theme). This was then topped off with hazelnut chocolate spread layer and was put into the freezer drawer to set.




Although super delicious, there were a bit sweet for me and if I make them again I will alter the middle layer to be more of a thick custard than a buttercream. That said, I am looking forward to the next challenge!



Graham Crackers

from 101 Cookbooks (I halved the 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:

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.

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



Nanaimo Bars (I halved the recipe)

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 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Roasted Hazelnuts

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
2 Shots Frangelico

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Hazelbut Chocolate Spread
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter


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.
For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
For Top Layer: Beat together chocolate spread and butter, spread over middle layer and chill.


19 Comments Add yours

  1. wic says:

    love the combination of your bars and just adore the presentation. amazing work with this months challenge.

  2. chef_d says:

    great looking graham crackers and nanaimo bars! the addition of frangelico sounds really interesting 🙂

  3. Freya says:

    LUCY THEY LOOK AMAZING. although i am dietting so I will just dribble a bit and think of them instead of ever making them.

  4. pontch says:

    perfect Nanaimo bars.
    beautiful pictures.

  5. MandyM says:

    I love the swirls on top and can only imagine how fantastic these must take with hazelnuts & Frangelico. Yum! Great work on the challenge 🙂

  6. Suzana says:

    Beautiful photos! Nanaimo bars really are pretty, aren’t they? I love what you did with the top layer. 🙂

  7. Mary says:

    They look fantastic with the hazelnut, and anything that tastes like Nutella is a good thing! Glad you enjoyed one of our Canadian treats! i made a pretty standard version, but more of a custard layer than a buttercream.

  8. Mary says:

    Thanks–I fell pretty hard for the cookie cutters too! i bought them at Williams Sonoma, and they come with lots of letters to write whatever you want. They were stupid expensive though, In Canadian dollars and with shipping. I guess I’ll have to use them a lot!

    1. chezluce says:

      I am going to look right now to see if they will ship to the UK!!

      1. chezluce says:

        😦 They don’t…

  9. Elissa says:

    Wow. I love the pattern you made on top of the bars with the chocolate-hazelnut spread, which sounds so good! Your bars have such a pretty, nutty-brown look, though I’m with you and found them too sweet.

  10. Sue says:

    Your graham crackers and bars look so precision and perfect! Beautiful job on the challenge!

  11. rachel says:

    Amazing pics and they look really really pretty!

  12. Lovely and very elegant photos and the flavour combination sounds too delicious to eat (though of course I would in an instant). You really do have a lot of talent when it comes to photographing food. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  13. Cheri says:

    Oh my goodness, I am loving this! They look gorgeous, they sound divine and I think I know what I’m trying for next time. Excellent!

  14. Lauren says:

    Absolutely stunning! I love what you did with my challenge =D. The flavours are simply divine!

  15. kristen says:

    mmm hazelnuts. great idea! your bars turned out beautiful. i especially love the texture you got on the chocolate. well done!

  16. I love the texture on your top layer and your hazelnut flavor combination–wonderful! 🙂

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