31 January 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge - Nanaimo Bars

Don't you hate it when you shatter your own childhood memory?

When this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was announced as not only Gluten Free Graham Crackers but Nanaimo Bars - I think I did a little happy dance. As random as it is - as an Australian child - I have actually eaten these before! (Which is more than I can say for our newly immigrated Canadian neighbours...)

I called my Mum to tell her how excited I was and how much I enjoyed them when I was little. This was when mum told me that she had only ever made them once, but didn't remember ever eating them.

And then I remembered.

And then the embarrassment kicked in.

Mum made them (lovingly), portioned them (cleverly) and froze them (hopefully).

And then I ate them.

One by one, day after day, my chubby little fingers snuck into the freezer and demolished Mum's stash. So yes, I had them and loved them - Mum remembers making them but never actually eating them... *arwkward*

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 Nanaimo Canada 

 Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs / Arnotts Shredded Wholemeal Biscuits
1/2 cup (55 g) Almonds, any kind
1 cup (130 g) Shredded Coconut

Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder
2 cups (254 g) Icing Sugar

Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) Unsalted Butter


1. For Bottom Layer: Melt butter, sugar and cocoa. 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. Chill until hardened and set. (As you can quite obviously see - I didn't follow this instruction - I used my fancy pants quiche tin...)

2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer. Chill.

3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Allow to cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

To serve: Slice into portions, remembering that this is a very sweet and rich dessert. Err on the side of smaller, rather than larger portions.

The Verdict: I felt uneasy about this recipe, because if you read the ingredients - you will see that the middle layer is basically icing with custard powder. And I don't really like icing. So I clung desperately to my childhood memories and convinced myself that I would like it... but I didn't. *sigh*

BUT the base was amazing. I will be using this base recipe for all my cheesecakes and slices from now on. Absolutely delicious! (FYI - I used toasted, slivered almonds.)

And yes, the fact that I liked the base but not the middle does mean that ate the top off, scooped out the middle and then ate the base... I know that I should be ashamed of myself and my childish antics. But I'm not. And such is the pleasure of being a (semi) anonymous blogger!

Thank you Daring Bakers for another great challenge, can't wait for the next one!


  1. I wasn't sure about the middle too because custard powder? Um. And 2 cups of icing sugar?! Double umm.

    To be honest I rather have the graham wafers by itself then to use it for these bars :P

  2. Heehee, love that story from when you were a kid! :) Your nanaimo bars look great! :)

  3. Ha! I always ate things before anyone else got to them. I'm sure everyone else did the same. Sometimes you have to be quick!!

  4. HAha, that's hilarious! You must've REALLY loved them as a kid!

  5. Such a sweet childhood memory .. and a great story. One of those that makes you smile :)
    Too bad the Nanimo bars didn't live up to those sweet memories.

  6. Hehe that's so cute! :P I can picture your mum wondering where they went! I like your tart slice pieces!

  7. lol great story! Shame they didn't live up to your memory of them but they look delicious.

  8. What a cute story! :) And your bars look yummy!

  9. Awww...so cute! Your mum never found out?? that's so cool!

  10. Lol - no, I managed to keep the secret until 2 weeks ago!! :) mum had no idea until I brought it up... Oops!! :)

  11. Haha! Did you eat the entire stash by yourself? Or did you leave a lonely token one behind?

    I agree about the base in this recipe, it rocks. Good idea to use it with other things, I will have to remember that myself.

  12. What an adorable story! These bars look delish...have a great weekend! I love reading your blog!

  13. Poor mother ;)
    Lovely nanaimo bars!