Jan 27, 2010

Nanaimo bars

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 is my first baked good using gluten free flours and I have to say I was very impressed. The glutinous rice flour and the tapioca starch was very easy to find, but the sorghum flour took a little longer. I was almost ready to throw in the towel and just use the wheat flours...but I really wanted to try making gf baked goods. In the end, I found the sorghum flour at a local health food store called, Down to Earth.

The dough for the graham crackers was really hard to handle. It was so sticky and soft, it felt almost like a thick cake batter. I put my dough in the freezer instead of the refrigerator, but it was still very soft after just a little bit of rolling. After the graham crackers are made, the nanaimo bars came together pretty quickly.

The results? I love the graham crackers. I really want to make the wheat version just to compare. As for the nanaimo bars, I've never had them before, so I can't compare it to anything. As a bar, I thought it was too sweet. It made me kinda sad that I took all that time making the graham crackers, and they kinda get lost in the bars. Here are the recipes.

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
adapted from 101 cookbook

1 cup Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons Whole Milk
2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.

2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.

4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.

7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.

8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.

9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup coconut(Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

Middle Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups Icing Sugar

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.

Jan 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The food affair kitchen has seen a lot of cookies, but I've actually never made peanut butter cookies before. Peanut butter cookies are not my favorite, but after reading the post from Sugar Cooking, I couldn't resist.

These cookies are from the Baked: New Frontier in Baking cookbook. I've heard so much about this cookbook, and after this cookie, I might be needing this in my already stuffed cookbook bookshelf.

These cookies are incredible straight out of the oven. I kept taste testing these cookies. heehee. Out of the oven, they're crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. The peanut butter and the milk chocolate chips are a great combination!! According to Sugar Cooking, the original recipe warns against using semisweet chocolate because the bitterness does not go well with the peanut butter. I was so tempted to use semisweet chocolate because I always have that on hand...but I decided against it. If they made the effort to put that in the book, it must be important. Anyway...the next day, these cookies are chewy all over, maybe it's because of the humidity here. It's still very good, but I love the crispiness. Here's the recipe.

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
from Sugar Cooking

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (see note)

1. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat teh butter and sugar together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter until just incorporated.

3. Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

4. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (see note).

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

  • *I let the dough sit overnight before baking them.

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