When January 1st rolled around, I decided I would join the Daring Bakers for 2010. The monthly recipe challenges seemed like a great idea. I'd get to try new recipes. Writing about the challenges would help feed the hungry blog monster. And I love the idea of cooking essentially the same thing at the sametime as a whole bunch of other cooks all around the world, and then seeing how each cook works their own personal magic.
To be frank, there was little that appealed to me about these layered bars. The bottom layer was essentially graham cracker crumb. And I had to make the graham crackers. Gluten free, too!
Here's something I haven't shared with many people. Graham crackers give me the WORST stomach aches. So, I never ever make anything with a graham cracker. I always substitute amaretto cookies. Or ginger snaps. But that Gluten Free twist? This challenge might clear up the graham question that has plagued me since I was a child.
So, I spent some time reading about celiac disease and gluten free cooking on Lauren's excellent blog, and decided to roll up my sleeves.
Off I went to the Thai grocer for glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour. Then to the Co-op for Sorgham flour. The rest of the ingredients I had in the pantry.
I intended to make half a recipe of the graham crackers. While the instructions said the graham crackers would last for two weeks, I wasn't that into the whole idea. (Seriously bad tummy problems.)
But the danged computer still doesn't work in the kitchen, so I was running back and forth to the front of the house, where the network connection is strong, reading instructions and back to the kitchen to cook. Really, it was just comical. Needless to say, I managed to get confused and added full amounts of half the ingredients, so I remedied the situation, finished the dough, and had a full recipe.
This would turn out to be a good thing.
I chilled the dough which was VERY soft, cut out the crackers and chilled them again, then made those cute little poked holes all over the cracker so it would look like the pictures. Into the oven - 12 minutes later this is what I had.
I shortened the time to ten minutes for the next two trays. Not much better. I stacked them up cleverly and took a photo. Then I threw them all into the food processor and blasted it into crumbs.
I have to admit. Those crumbs smelled divine. Brown sugary. Buttery.
The next day, I finished off the challenge. The original recipe called for a custard layer made with something called custard powder. I had no idea where to find that, so I considered a very stiff creme anglaise. Of course, this was two days before the posting date... of course I should have started this weeks ago, but I've always been a procrastinator.
Then I remembered my lemon curd stash. The freezer has four containers of Meyer lemon curd from one of the times I was unable to walk away from Meyer lemons.
Now, we're talking.
My little mind started whirring. Thinking of one of my favorite holiday cookies, I mentally combined pistachio, lemon, ginger and chocolate, and put a Mrs. Wheelbarrow spin on the Nanaimo bar.
Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
For the base layer:
1-1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c chopped roasted, salted pistachio nuts (not red)
1/2 c crystallized ginger
Stir ingredients together and press firmly into the bottom of the baking pan.
Chill for 1 hour.
For the middle layer
1 c Meyer lemon curd (here's a link to Alton Brown's curd recipe)
Spread across the top of the base layer and chill for an hour.
For the top layer
Now, chill this for at least 8 hours, overnight, if possible. Lift it out by the paper edges and
Cut with a knife that you clean after every cut.
These are sweet, gingery and tart with fresh lemon - really delicious. Cutting them was a challenge. Here's the prettiest plate I could manage. I needed one more day to chill them more, and the photo would do them justice.
Thank you to the Daring Bakers for opening my eyes to gluten free ingredients and to Lauren to introducing me to this tasty Nanaimo bar. And no tummy problems at all. I'm sold.