Oh, Daring Bakers, what has happened to my first love for you? I was so excited to experiment with new and complicated baking techniques that I had yet to try. But to be honest I've been a little disappointed with your most recent choices. Am I allowed to publicly admit this? Granted, I didn't get around to December's gingerbread house challenge, but I have made them before so it wasn't that novel.
January's challenged was Nanaimo bars. Foreign to me, but described by DB as
a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.
This reminded me a little of the American kitchen sink or seven layer bar, based on top of a graham cracker crumb mixture and topped with every sweet thing in Grandma's cupboard. The first bite might fill a sweet tooth craving, but every subsequent taste makes your stomach feel increasingly sicker. The thought of making this bar cookie with vanilla pudding mix made me gag a little. Special Canadian tradition or not. Had I a little more time, I could have put my spin on it and experimented with homemade pudding, layered with dark chocolate ganache. But time is the most valuable thing of my life right now. Valuable and rare. I could have simply dipped them in chocolate. I might still do this. Yes, I will certainly do this, but not in time to photograph by the deadline.
I have never made graham crackers from scratch. Lucky for me this was the only mandatory part of January's challenge. They suggested a gluten-free version, but my pantry was not well stocked enough to pull it off last minute. So this time around I made a batch using 101 cookbooks recipe, with whole wheat flour. They were crispy and very flavorful. The brown sugar and vanilla really add a butterscotch overtone to this cookie cracker.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also dieting here at the Last Bite. You would know this if you lived next door because along with my dieting comes a little bit more irritability and yelling. My kids probably would have loved the Nanaimo bars, so maybe I was just being selfish because I knew I wouldn't be able to eat them. A graham cracker, sure. But, a layered sugar rush. No way I'm counting those calories.
Here's hoping February's challenge is more of a culinary adventure to remember. Or maybe I should just go to culinary school.
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.