Saturday, February 13, 2010

Daring Kitchen - Nanaimo Bars

About a week ago I signed up for Daring Bakers. I won't get to participate until March. I had a bit of trouble finding something I wanted to make this weekend, so I decided to attempt this months Daring bakers' challenge.

Since it wasn't officially a challenge for me, I didn't use their recipe. I am mildly allergic to coconut, so that had to go. I also wanted mine to have a bit of mint. I thought I'd add mint extract to the filling, but my husband thought that might be a bit much. Instead we ditched chocolate chips for the topping and used Andes Mints baking bits.

My base:
1/2c butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbs cocoa powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1.5c graham cracker crumbs
1/2c almonds, chopped

My filling:
1/3c butter
1/4c milk
1 pack vanilla pudding mix
3c powdered sugar

My top:
2tbs butter
Most of a package of Andes Mint baking bits

Base Instructions:
Melt butter in sauce pan
Mix in sugar and cocoa
Let mixture cool
Whisk in egg and vanilla
Add crackers and almonds
Mix well
Spread into 9x9 pan
Chill (I did about 30 minutes, the time it took to clean up from the base)

Filling instructions:
Whip up the butter
Mix in pudding powder and milk
Add powdered sugar (I did a cup at a time into a medium bowl)
Spread over the base evenly
Chill (Maybe 15 minutes for me?)

Topping instructions:
Melt butter and mint pieces in double boiler
Pour and smooth over filling
Back in the fridge

I left it in the fridge for an hour or so.
To cut it up I used a tip I read somewhere, though I don't remember where. Fill a glass with HOT water. Stick two thin knives in the water. Pull one out after about 30 seconds, dry and make a cut, put it back, use second knife, switch, and so on and so forth.

It gave me pretty clean cuts. The only issue was that I probably should have let the dish come to room temp. It was so cold and hard that it got some thin cracks over the top.

Here are the bars after step one. Not really pretty. The layer for this mixture was shiny, not real sticky...easy to press into the dish.

Here it is after layer two. This mixture was a bit rough on my hand mixer. I can't even imagine doing this by hand. Again, very easy to move around...a little hard to smooth out. It wanted to go with the spoon.

And the final layer. Just work the chocolate around as you pour so you don't have to move it much. My recipe called for a cup of chocolate and it seem like barely enough to be the top layer, but once it set up it made for a nice solid layer.

And here is the final product. I think the middle and bottom layers could have stood to set up a bit longer. They wanted to fall apart on me (from each other more than anything).

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