Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lovely, I'm sure...

So, I have all but abandoned my blog. Reasons are numerous but it all comes down to three facts: I have been busy, I have lost interest, and I am the only one who reads this thing. However, I just finished reading a blog post that an old friend from high school wrote and it made me nostalgic for my blog posting days.

First, an update on my life. The job that I raved about a year ago has become a nightmare. I hate it. A lot. So, I'm planning on going back to school to become a middle school math teacher. I'm actually quite excited about that. I've always loved math and having volunteered in a sixth grade math class twice a week for a couple months now I'm falling more and more in love with the idea of teaching.

I've also decided to up my efforts to live a simplified life. It's been a constant goal of mine to pare down my life to the bare essentials. However, I've been really bad with the follow through. I've decided that several areas of my life need a makeover, or more accurately a makeunder, and I am determined to set the actions in motion. Wish me luck! I'll chronicle my process (unless my interest fades again).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nanaimo Bars: Those Canadians have done it again!

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

I'm a naughty girl. I actually did my challenge very early this month but have been too lazy to upload pictures. I loved this challenge. I had never heard of Nanaimo bars before but oh my goodness they are so good! I wish I could say I was as disciplined as some of the daring bakers who froze them, gave them away, or ate them a little bit at a time. Nope, I ate the entire batch in less than two days. My husband had ONE.

This was my first time making graham crackers from scratch. I've never been a graham cracker fan but they taste so much better homemade. I must admit, they weren't gluten free. I used AP flour. I couldn't find any of the specialty flours at my local grocery store and I couldn't justify hunting them down and spending a lot of money on them when I probably will never use them again. The only problems I encountered while making the graham crackers were 1. I kept eating the batter and 2. I BURNED them!! Next time I'll keep a close eye on them. Some of them were still salvageable and went in to the Nanaimo bars. Unfortunately, none of them were pretty enough to take a picture of (which is a shame because I made them in the shapes of Dinosaurs and Hippopotamuses using the cookie cutters my parents gave my hubby for Christmas.

For the bars, I added all the goodies listed in the recipe including some chocolate chips. I used pudding instead of custard mix because, again, I couldn't find any at my grocery store. The frosting center never set up hard enough for me to make a clean cut (perhaps because of my use of pudding instead of custard)...but it was SO GOOD!! My only big complaint about the recipe is that there wasn't enough ganache to cover the top completely. So, I decided to marble it to make it look prettier. It's funny how my desserts never turn out as pretty as anyone else on Daring Baker's. They almost always taste amazing but my presentation sucks. I really need to work on that.

Homemade Graham Crackers

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a large baking sheet. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar together until light. Stir in the flour mixture. Slowly pour in the water; stir until dough is formed. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

3. On a well floured board, roll dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut dough into squares or rectangles. Transfer crackers to prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven until light brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Remove crackers from oven. Use a fork to pierce multiple holes on tops of crackers.

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.