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’ve always wanted to be part of the Daring Bakers, now I am and this is my first contribution to the challenge. I have never heard of Nanaimo bars before, so to Wikipedia I went. There you can read that Nanaimo bars are a Canadian dessert with 3 layers. The bottom layer consists of wafer crumbs, cocoa, coconut and almonds, the middle layer is a vanilla or custard flavored butter icing, and on top you’ll find a chocolate-butter layer. For the crumbs, you use Graham crackers, but as Lauren chose to go gluten-free, we had to make the Graham crackers from scratch.
Funnily enough, I had all the ingredients for gluten-free Graham crackers on hand, that is glutinous rice flour, tapioca starch and sorghum flour (sorghum grains that I ground with my grain mill). We are not on a gluten-free diet, but I was stocking up on supplies for my pantry some time ago to be able to cook from my Japanese cookbooks by Harumi Kurihara (here and here), and glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch seem to be part of the Asian cuisine.
You’ll find the recipe for Graham crackers here. To make them gluten-free, just substitute the following flours for the declared flour:
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour
- 3/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour
Keep in mind, though, that this recipe yields a lot of Graham crackers. I made only half a batch, and still had leftover Graham crackers (my kids were really enthusiastic about eating all the leftover crackers ;-)).
For the Nanaimo bars recipe, please go to the website of Nanaimo (which in fact is a city in British Columbia).
Making the Nanaimo bars was kind of time-consuming, but it was worth every minute. The result is a very yummy, though VERY rich, chocolate square. I’ve never had Graham crackers, so I can’t really tell how the gluten-free version stands up to the original version, but what I can say is that the gluten-free Graham crackers are DIVINE! The dough was so delicious that I couldn’t stop trying it (and that was before the crackers were baked!).
The Nanaimo bars are said to freeze well, so I’m going to pop some into the freezer. It’s my daughter’s birthday soon, and I’m sure all the kids will be thrilled to have these bars at the party.