Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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 know that Nanaimo bars were a brand new confection for some of my fellow Daring Bakers. For me, they are a thing of my childhood. My mother didn't make them. My grandmother didn't make them. My best friends mother made them. Not often, but when she did, swoon, I was in sugar heaven. I live a mere 25 minutes from the Canadian border in a cute little college town dubbed Bellingham (in Washington). I'd never eaten or even heard of a Nanaimo bar before moving here, they sell them in our bakeries, our grocery stores, and people bake them in their kitchens. Perhaps it's something about being so close to the Canadian town that made these bars famous. Still, I haven't tasted one in nearly ten years. Now I know why. I couldn't get enough of Nanaimo bars as a young girl, then again, I couldn't get enough of sugar period. Don't get me wrong, I still have a deep love for sugar (hello, I'm a Daring Baker), but these bars are like a punch in the tastebuds. Just too much of a good thing. The buttery filling is insanely sweet. The chocolate just adds more intense sweetness. I think the only thing I really truly loved was the crust. In fact, I found myself gnawing the bottom off the small square I cut this afternoon, throwing the rest (filling and chocolate) away. To know me is to know that this is nearly unheard of, throwing any dessert in the garbage. I don't think I even realized my dislike until I found myself tossing the sad looking remains in the trash can. I supposed I don't care much for Nanaimo bars any longer. It is absolutely not the recipe. They taste just as good, if not better, than the Nanaimo bars of my childhood. It's not the bars, it's my taste. I promise. I love things now that I used to despise. And vice versa, apparently!
I had a fantastic time making my own graham crackers. Now, graham crackers, there's something I never care to eat. Store bought, flavor lacking, thin, cardboard-esque cookie imposters. Despite that, I've wanted to try my hand at baking my own for a very long time. I wondered if the 'real' thing would be better, it had to be. It was so simple. So incredibly simple I wondered why in the world it took me so long. Really. It doesn't get much simpler than a homemade graham cracker. And they are nothing like those sad plastic packaged 'crackers' they sell in every grocery store. Sweet, crispy, light, and they fill the air with the most heavenly scent. I will surely be breaking these out with homemade marshmallows come summertime bonfires.