Bar Desserts

Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bars

January 2010 – Daring Baker’s Challenge

Shhh… I’ve been hiding out.

Apparently, these little fellas (Nanaimo Bars) have caused quite a stir inside my “circle of trust”. I don’t really get what the fuss is all about? I mean, OK… so, you have three layers of deliciousness.

A base layer comprised of crumbled graham cracker (gluten-free in this particular case), shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and chocolate no big deal right?

A middle layer made up of a bit of cheesecake pudding mix, butter, sugar, a little heavy cream and toffee bits.

Then finally the whole thing simply gets topped with melted chocolate… whoopdie doo!

Honestly I don’t get it…

So, if anyone wants to point any fingers. I suggest you point them at our lovely host of this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge Lauren of Celiac Teen.

And, actually I’m sure she had the best intentions, probably just wanted to celebrate the fact that this year’s winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver and at the same time share a very classic Canadian dessert with us.

Her Nanaimo recipe was based on a combination of 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bars
from Lauren of Celiac Teen

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

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.


Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.

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.


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.


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) 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)

*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

*Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

*Daydreamer Desserts Substitutions:
Bottom Layer: pecans for almonds
Middle Layer: 1.4oz box of cheesecake pudding mix for custard powder + 1/2 cup toffee bits
Top Layer: I added 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder

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.


For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder (or Daydreamer Dessert Version: 1 small box of cheesecake pudding mix), and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.



For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill. (* I added 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder to my melted chocolate)



Nothing to get excited over… right??

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Mocha Toffee Cashew Bars

If you are a coffee lover like me, and you are in need of a little “pick-me-up” try out these yummy bars, they are super easy to make and taste oh so good.

The texture of the base is like a shortbread-brownie hybrid and the rich melted chocolate with chopped cashews takes these bars to a whole new level.

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Black-Bottom Banana Cheesecake Bars

This morning I came across an article that caught my eye as I logged in to check my email…When a Deal Isn’t Really a Deal, which I thought was very appropriate for this post.

I love how Ricky described it in The Sublease episode of I Love Lucy: “They’re trying to make us look at this thin’ through a sweater.” Which Lucy kindly translated: “Oooooh! You mean they’re are trying to pull the wool over our eyes”.

Well, within the article there was also a reference to a study Costco Customers are Irrational.

Now, let me tie this in…

1. In my personal experience I’ve found that Cake Mix sales at the grocery store are usually pretty good deals. I’ve been known to walk out with “massive amounts” of them at a time.

2. Bulk fruit can be a good deal only if you are sure you will be able to consume it all, before it has to be thrown out.

So what do you do when you have massive amounts of cake mix sitting in your pantry, and no one has seemed to pay any attention to all those bananas you bought over the weekend? Easy… you make this yummy, supper easy dessert.

Black-bottom Banana Cheesecake Bars

Black-bottom Banana Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Cake Mix Cookies by Camila V. Saulsbury

1 18.25 ounce package devil’s food cake mix
3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 large bananas
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon maple extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F for dark-coated metal pan).

Spray the bottom only of a 13 x 9 inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl place the cake mix, 4 ounces of the softened cream cheese, 1 egg and the melted butter.

Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, and bake for 15 minutes.

While the crust bakes, in a medium bowl place the remaining cream cheese, mashed banana, 1 cup powdered sugar, the vanilla and maple extracts. Blend for 2 minutes with the electric mixer set on medium speed until blended and smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time being careful not to over mix.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the chocolate crust.

Bake for 25-28 minutes or until just set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving, I prefer to keep it in the fridge overnight.

Black-bottom Banana Cheesecake Bars

C’est Magnifique!

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