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.
This month's DB challenge was a completely new item for me. I'd seen Nanaimo (pronounced Nuh-nye-moh) bars, those beloved Canadian bar-cookie-type treats, around the foodie blogosphere, but I'd never actually encountered them in person. Necessity inspired a few adjustments to this recipe, but by and large I'm pretty sure I captured the general gist. For a really good rundown, though, stop by and visit Lauren's site ~ her excellent pics and post will walk you through all the steps.
I didn't have any gluten-free flours on hand so I decided to go with AP flour. I've worked with GF flours in the past, though, and my experience is that they can be utilized with success to make some really wonderful pastries. I've never tried to make GF graham crackers, but I'm sure the result would be delicious.
The second change I made was a little more involved. I didn't have custard powder on hand, nor did I have a clue where I might find any on short notice. (Yep, another last-minute race to complete the challenge.) Furthermore, I don't really use powdered pudding mix, so I did the next best thing and made a vanilla creme patissiere to use as a filling. To stiffen it up for slicing, I added a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch, but it was still a bit looser than ideal. (All the icing sugar called for in the original recipe serves the purpose of making this layer nice and solid, and therefore much easier to cut through.)
Third, and this is minor, instead of cutting the graham dough into squares before baking, I used the method that I use at work to make graham cracker crumbs. I simply rolled out the dough into one large sheet, baked it, broke it up, baked it again for a few moments to dry it out a bit, then processed it in the food processor. I could have rolled it thinner to avoid the second bake, but this way is much easier and less time consuming.
Ultimately, I'm sorry to say that I didn't love my version. I can't say I don't love Nanaimo bars in general because I did play around with the formula, so I will just say that my batch was "meh," and too difficult to cut neatly. On the other hand, my teens liked these a lot, and I'm betting that their review would be a lot more enthusiastic than mine. Not a difficult dessert to make, but not one I'd probably add to my repertoire, unless I could get my hands on some of that custard powder. I will say that the graham cracker element was very tasty ~ in fact, it was my favorite part.
I'm glad I got to give these a whirl, though. Thanks, Lauren!