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 are on 101 Cookbooks and nanaimo.ca

Here goes for my first try at Daring Bakers and blogging! As far as my first challenge is concerned I believe it was a successful one.  I’m so glad to be a part of this wonderful community! I was born and raised in Canada (Montreal to be precise) yet I had never heard of Nanaimo bars before. As for the blogging part… more on that later!

When I saw the pictures and the instructions before actually making them I thought the result would be a chocolatey-nutty pastry dessert. When I finally started making it I realized hmmm.. these layers are way too thick to make up a pastry! I went with the flow of things and I was in for a real surprise when the moment came to cut the bars in the morning after refrigerating them. That’s when I realized what they really were and suddenly the word “bars” sunk in and I thought “silly me.. it did say Nanaimo bars!”. While I was tasting the batters as I was layering them my first thought was that Nanaimo probably wasn’t going to be a dessert meant for my palate. Finding it too sweet (especially the vanilla buttercream layer) and the coconut too pronounced. But when I cut the little bars in the morning once they were done I immediately fell in love with them! Definitely a new taste and flavour for me. One that didn’t take very long to appreciate given I couldn’t stop eating them. I was initially afraid of making something I would be left with but it turns out I doubt there will be any left by tomorrow.

After mastering the original recipe I’m looking forward to playing around with different flavour variations.

The graham wafers I made were with wheat flour instead of a mix of gluten-free flours I couldn’t find in my area. I have to admit it’s been years perhaps decades since I last had a taste of Graham wafers. Still, the ones I made tasted a little off. They had this faint bitter aftertaste and my thoughts were that the vanilla was probably too much. I think I will try using a little less next time. I also found them too hard but that may be because I made them too thick. I also had forgotten to prick them before baking! I still found them to be overall satisfactory and a great alternative for a healthy cookie.

Finally, for the Nanaimo bars, the amounts of the dry ingredients in the base were a little off too with a little less Graham crumbs and almonds and a little more coconut. I also added a few more tablespoons of heavy cream for the middle layer because the 2 tablespoons the recipe called for was too little to make up a spreadable cream with.

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