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Archive for January, 2010

Dare to go to Canada and taste the 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. Thank you Lauren for the challenge and mostly for the fact that it was supposed to be gluten free.

It is not the first time I am doing gluten free cookies. The best part of baking GF cookies is the many many flour combinations you have available. This time I choose amaranth flour, rice flour and and buckwheat.
The bars are not exactly my “piece of cake”. They are not bad, but they are just too heavy.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour) - I used brown rice flour
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour – I used amaranth
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour – I used buckwheat
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

Directions:
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.

For 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) – I used 235 g
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped) – I used 100 g
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened) – I skipped it

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
* I made a mango mousseline – recipe at the end

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
* I made a mango chocolate ganache

Directions:
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.

Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:

• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.

For the mango mousseline
205 ml milk
2 egg yolks
35 g sugar
27 g corn starch
100 g mango puree
160 ml whipped cream
4 g gelatin softened in cold water
1/2 vanilla bean

In a small bowl place the gelatin and water and let it bloom until you prepare the rest.
Place the milk and the vanilla bean on medium heat and bring to a boil. In the meantime mix the egg yolks and the sugar. Add the cornstarch and mix well. When the milk is boiling, take it off the heat, remove the bean and scrape the seeds into the milk. Slowly pour the milk over the yolks, whisking continuously. Return to low heat and cook until it thickens. At this point add in the mango puree and cook another 30 seconds or so. Melt the gelatin (in the microwave on LOW or over a pot of boiling water) and immediately add it to the milk – mango mixture. Let it cool to room temperature, and when cool enough add the whipped cream.

For the mango ganache
150 g chocolate chopped
60 g mango puree
30 ml half and half
20 g butter at room temperature

Place the chopped chocolate in a clean dry bowl. Bring the cream and mango puree to a boil and add it to the chocolate. Let stand 1-2 minutes and then stir very gently. When it cools, add the butter and gently fold it in. This is not a very smooth ganache, as you can also see in the photos.

Happy New Year – Coconut Orange and Strawberry Delice

No post from last year …..
I wish you all the best for 2010 and hope you all had the nicest holidays close to your dear ones as I did.

Looking back at the past year, I can say it was a good one. It was the year that made me see very clear what I want to do with my life, a year full of hopes and plans. There was no real action towards my goals, but more perfecting myself and drawing plans for this year.
2010 looks promising or at least this is how I see it. This is the year that will be decisive for what I want to do when I grow up :) .
I do not believe in end of the year resolutions, but I strongly believe in myself and in my ability to follow what I set my mind on. I know I will get where I want.
Did you make your resolutions? What do you expect from 2010?

One of my greatest achievements was getting confident in baking and being able to play around with desserts and combining flavors and textures and tastes as I thought and not as somebody else thought before me. I love to start with one ingredient and build around it. These cakes started from my craving for oranges and they satisfied my craving entirely.

For the olive oil sponge
125 g flour
4 g baking powder
3 eggs
90 g sugar
100 ml milk
5 ml orange juice
orange zest
60 ml olive oil

Preheat the oven at 160 degrees Celsius. Butter and line a jelly roll pan.
Place the eggs and the sugar over a pot of simmering water and bring the mixture to 35-40 degrees C while stirring. Remove from heat and beat the eggs until cool and thick. Add the milk and fold it in gently. Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and gently fold it in. Add the orange juice, zest and the oil and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake it for 15-20 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool.

For the coconut Bavarian
3 egg yolks
40 g sugar
180 ml coconut milk
190 ml whipped cream
5 g gelatin+ 20 ml cold water

Place the gelatin and water into a small bowl and let in bloom for about 10 minutes.
Place the milk over medium heat and bring it to a boil. In the mean time beat the yolks and the sugar until pale. Pour the hot milk over the yolks while stirring to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the pan and over low heat bring it to 76-77 C (stir constantly). Melt the gelatin in the microwave and add it to the creme anglaise. Let this mixture cool to room temperature and fold in the whipped cream.

For the orange mousse
Use the recipe here and replace the lemon juice with orange juice and add some orange zest as well.

For the strawberry sauce
300 g strawberries
75 g sugar
120 ml orange juice (freshly squeezed)
10 cornstarch dissolved in cold water

Bring the fruits, sugar and juice to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove about 100 ml of the juices to use for brushing the cakes later.
Add the dissolved cornstarch and return the fruits to low heat stirring gently until thickened. Let cool to room temperature before using.

For the syrup
100 ml reserved strawberry orange juice
50 ml orange juice

To assemble

To build the cakes you can either use silicon molds as I did and build the cake upside down: coconut mousse, strawberry sauce, orange mousse and then a cake square. Or you can use cake rings and start with the cake layer.
As I did, pipe coconut bavarian almost to the middle of the mold. Let it set in the fridge. Add 1 teaspoon of strawberry sauce in the center, then pipe orange mousse to the top of the mold. Top the mousse with a cake square and brush the cake with the syrup. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Unmold the cakes and top them with some more strawberry sauce.

January 2010
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