Daring Bakers, Dessert
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Daring Bakers Challenge, Nanaimo Bars

I know I’m very late in posting up the result of my DBC for this month, however, I have a legitimate reason for this. With the majority of the month spent overseas, I arrived back home 2 days before the posting date was due. Determined not to miss out on another challenge, I finally did the Nanaimo bars last weekend. Prior to this month’s DBC, I never ever heard of Nanaimo bars, so was very keen on giving it a go.  

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.  


For this month’s challenge, I wanted to experiment and play around with flavours and textures, so modified the recipe a little. I added caramel and chocolate mousse to the middle, and instead of vanilla custard, I substituted it for cheesecake filling.  

Before doing any of my baking, I tend to sketch down my ideas, so I thought why not show you what I had intended to make and how it compared to my final result.  


Graham Wafers Recipe

Lauren recommended that we did a Gluten Free version of the Graham Wafers, however, due to difficulties attaining the necessary ingredients I wasn’t able to comply, so instead baked from the original recipe. However, I will post the ingredients for both the Gluten Free and Original recipes. 

Gluten Free: 

1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Non Gluten Free: 

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, 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.  


As I’ve made changes to the original recipe for the Nanaimo bars, I will post the recipe that Lauren had given us.  

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


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.

For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.

For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.  



So how does my final result compared to my sketch ? I completed the bottom layer, cheesecake layer, salted caramel and chocolate mousse as intended. However, due to time constraints and still trying to recover and unpack from my holiday, I was too impatient so completely destroyed my tempered chocolate, and left out the chocolate curl and salted peanut butter truffle.  

Thank you to Lauren for hosting this month’s DBC. The different layers of the bar was absolutely delicious on their own, however when eaten all together was even better. My brother who usually doesn’t like dessert actually ate the whole piece on his own.


  1. Love the pictures. Your graham crackers are the picture of perfection! Looks like you created a whole new dessert though. Maybe you could call them Fairfield Bars instead of Nanaimos 😉

  2. Oh! I was wondering if you were going to do this challenge :) They do sound very tasty – like a whole new Nanimo-inspired creation. (And oh! I sketch my things out before I make them too!)

  3. Oh my gosh. I am so glad you did this challenge, I missed seeing your DB posts! The mousse looks amazing. And cheesecake! So much better than the original filling. You’re so organised doing a sketch first, I just pluck my ideas out of my crazy brain.

  4. you are so close to finish it off! It will look decadent with the choc twirl and truffle ball on top! Good effort Linda, top effort to finish in 2 days 😉

  5. I’m in awe that you still churned this out after your long holiday – such dedication. And it looks beautiful and sounds even better than the original Nanaimo!

  6. It may not be as you intended but I’m sure they still tasted great. And you know what – serving them to people who wouldn’t know otherwise, they’d just be grateful that you were willing to share!

  7. Linda, I love the sketch of the naniamo bar – you already remind me of these artists that have a “vision” before they execute something. And the final version – impressive as always! Hope you had a good trip!

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