Tuesday, January 26, 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.

I must say I was very excited for this months challenge. I have never had nanaimo bars, but they sounded delicious! I was also very excited to make homemade graham crackers. What a fun challenge!

What I loved about this challenge was that it wasn't very time consuming or difficult so I could easily make them again. I loved the different layers, my favorite was probably the middle custard layer, which was more like a thick layer of buttercream! The first bite I took out of these bars I though they were ok, the second bite I thought they were good, then the third bite I was hooked! They were the type of things that just kept getting better and better with each bite. Thanks Lauren for a great challenge and be sure to check out how the other daring bakers did here.

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
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

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.

My homemade grahams:)

Nanaimo Bars

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

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.

German Chocolate Cake Take #2

Over the summer I made "The Most Amazing German Chocolate Cake", using David Lebovitz'recipe, everything except the cake itself which I used a cake mix for. My Grandma's birthday was this past week and I decided to make the cake again, but this time put all the effort in and make the cake from scratch using David's recipe. First of all, this cake was a lot of work. If you make this cake, be prepared to dirty every bowl in your kitchen, but also be prepared to taste the best cake ever! Honestly, this time I can truly say it was the most amazing german chocolate cake. I am always nervous to try out a new cake recipe from scratch. Some are too dry, don't rise enough, too dense....but this cake was absolutely perfect. So moist, best texture. I can't wait to try this cake recipe out in a cupcake. My mom has requested this cake for her birthday in March. I think for that cake I am going to double the coconut filling. That filling is to die for! And I would have loved more of it in the cake. This cake is also a bit time consuming, but worth it. And one suggestion, I am not a dark chocolate fan so sometimes in recipes I am tempted to use milk chocolate where it calls for dark or semi sweet. But for the chocolate icing, you must use a semi sweet chocolate, at least, if you like a darker chocolate use darker. But I thought the semi sweet was perfect because the rest of the cake is pretty light and sweet it really does need something a little richer to bring it all together. Enjoy!

Looking at these pictures make me sad that I don't have a piece
of this cake to eat right now!

German Chocolate Cake
David Lebotiz

One big, tall 9-inch cake; about 16 servings

For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped (I used semi sweet)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum (I left out)

For the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used semi)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

1. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.

7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there's no trace of egg white visible.

8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

To make the filling:

1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.

2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup:

1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing:

1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.

2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

To assemble the cake:

Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

(It may seem like a lot of chocolate icing, but use it all. Trust me. You won't be sorry.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Homemade Oreo Cookies

I feel like my blog is turning into a cookie blog, considering my last few posts have been about cookies! I guess I am just in the cookie baking mood:) This particular cookie, is one of my all time favorites! And fortunately, one of the easiest cookies you could ever make. I mean, is there anything better than two giant chocolate cookies stuck together by a thick layer of cream cheese icing? I don't think so, these homemade oreos are the perfect excuse to eat two cookies at a time. My problem is, I end up eating three of these homemade oreos in a sitting, now let's see....that's a grand total of 6 cookies plus frosting!!...I'd rather not think about that and just enjoy my cookie, which is calling my name as we speak:) Enjoy!

Homemade Oreo Cookies
1 devil's food cake mix (I have tried these with other chocolate cake mixes and they turn out just fine)
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs

Mix the above ingredients together. Roll the dough into dime-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool cookies.


8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 square butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 to 4 c. powdered sugar

Mix all of frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost BACKS of cookies and place together to make sandwich cookie.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie-it seems like everyone is constantly striving to find the ultimate recipe. I am no exception. I always try different recipes, hoping to find some unbelievable recipe that somehow tops my usual chocolate chip cookie, but it hasn't happened yet. I always go back to my standard, which was a recipe I got from a lady in my home neighborhood. These cookies are truly amazing. They are always sure to please, never to disappoint. I think the secret is all of the mixing that is required. I make mine in my bosch, I haven't tried it yet in my kitchen aide mixer but am anxious to see if the results are the same. If anyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe that you think could beat mine out, I'd love to hear it! I LOVE my recipe, but am not closed minded and am open to the possibility that some other recipe could be better:) I usually put chopped up symphony bar bits in my cookies instead of chocolate chips, I think that extra touch makes these cookies out of this world!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: Like I said above, I have only made this in my bosch mixer, they could turn out a little different if you make them with a hand held mixer or with a kitchen aide, but I'm sure they would still be great:)

Mix for 8 minutes (stopping at 4 min. to scrap down sides)

¾ c. butter

¾ c. butter flavor Crisco

1 ½ c. firmly packed brown sugar

1 c. sugar


¼ c. milk

2 Tbs. vanilla

Add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing for 2 min and 30 sec. after each.

Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl:

3 ½ c. flour

2 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly so everything is combined. Add to creamed mixture and don’t mix long-just pulse to blend. If you have a bosch, pulse the medium switch 3-4 times.

Mix in by hand 2 c. chocolate chips.

Baking at 350 7-8 min.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Delicious Melt Away Cookies

As promised here is the recipe for the melt aways that my mom made for our cookie exchange. She originally got this recipe from one of her friends. My mom made these a little bit larger than her friend makes them, but they were still just as good. My moms friends makes them pretty small that you can pop the whole cookie in your mouth! These cookies are frosted with a cream cheese icing with a little almond extract, you can make your own frosting or buy some cream cheese icing and just add almond extract. I can't express how much I love these cookies!! And they are so simple, just 4 ingredients....yeees they are a little heavy on the butter, so make these when you aren't dieting because you wont be able to just stop at one:)

Melt Aways

1/2 lb butter (softenend)
1/3 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. corn starch
1 c. flour

Mix all ingredients on low speed until the dough comes together. Use a small cookie scooper and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min, don't let them brown, just cook until the cookies set and you see small cracks.

Frost with favorite cream cheese icing with almond extract,one of my favorite cream cheese icings can be found here.

Tip: These cookies are a little fragile, so it makes it a little easier to place them in the freeze for a minute before frosting.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cousins Cookie Exchange: Lucious Layer Bars...mmmmm....

A few weeks ago me, a few cousins, my mom and one of my aunts, had a Christmas cookie exchange. It was so much fun to get together, eat good food, and exchange wonderful cookies. We had such a beautiful and impressive spread of cookies. It never ceases to amaze me the wonderful cooking talent that is on my moms side. It seems that most of us girls on that side share a love for cooking and I love how good food has become a very important family tradition.

For the cookie exchange I made Lucious Layer Bars. My cousin Leilani made these for my brothers mission farewell and I could not stop eating them! They are so absolutely delicious, right up my ally, lots of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and butterscotch chips. I should probably start off the new year by posting a light and healthy recipe...but....o well:) Light and healthy will be coming up soon, I just couldn't hold off any longer not posting this wonderful recipe. Here are some pics of the other cookies that were at the exchange, I will be emailing everyone and try to get all of the recipes for the cookies that were made so I can share them with you:)

Here are the luscious layer bars (recipe bellow), they may not look as fancy
as some of the other cookies, but they sure are delicious!

Not sure what the name of these beautiful cookies are, but they are
meringue dipped in chocolate, so pretty and yummy, I will track down the recipe:)
Again, not sure exact name, but they are a shortbread cookie topped with
chocolate and peppermint, so yummy, will get the recipe!
Ok...so if I HAD to pick a favorite, which would be hard because honestly
everyone of those cookies were amazing, but again if I HAD to pick one that I could
sit down and eat about ten...well these lovely melt away cookies might have to be it.
My mom made these, they literally melt in your mouth and are topped with a cream cheese
almond frosting, this recipe I will be posting next:)
And the ever popular peanut butter blossoms, sometimes there's just nothing better
than some peanut butter and chocolate:)Ok once again my luscious layer bars, finally the recipe is bellow!

Luscious Layer Bars

I pouch betty crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup better or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan using floured fingers.

Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts. Drizzle evenly with condensed milk.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light gold brown. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Tip: You can double this recipe and make it in a cookie sheet, that's what I did and it worked out just fine:)