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 gotta admit that when I found out what January's DB challenge was, I was a little unenthusiastic. Nanaimo Bars? Really? I mean they've been on nearly every holiday and party sweet tray my entire life. They sell huge trays of them at Costco and there is nary a bakery in Canada that doesn't sell oodles of over sized, over sweet ones every day. And, as Un-Canadian as it may seem, I've never really understood what all the fuss was about. In my house you were more likely to find a mint variation, appropriately called "Creme de Menthe Squares", which was and still is my Christmas treat pick.
In just 2 short weeks the 2010 Winter Olympics will take place in Vancouver, Canada, home of this Lemon Tart. Our host of this challenge, Canadian Daring Baker, Lauren, wanted to choose a challenge that highlighted something uniquely Canadian. The fact that Nanaimo, this treat's namesake, is just a quick ferry ride away from Vancouver makes it an appropriate choice. With a country created by people from other places, sometimes its hard to think of a treat that we can completely claim as our own, but there's no doubt to those of us here that this one is ours! Lastly, Canada really is the land of the square. Cookie that is. From church socials to barbeques and baby showers to weddings, you will find plentiful amounts of homemade squares of an amazing variety across this country. This is just one example.
The key part of this challenge was that we were to make our own graham crackers, an ingredient in Nanaimo Bars. Truth be told I was more excited about that than the recipe they were to be crushed up for. I have a love affair with graham crackers going way back. There's something about that not too sweet, deep honey flavour and just the right amount of crunch that satisfied many a craving. And I could polish off an entire sleeve in one sitting fairly easily. Except for the day when my Mom thought cheese whiz and graham cracker sandwiches would be tasty. They are not! Even when you are 15. Graham Crackers have been on my list for a few years now. Ever since I started making my own marshmallows I've had grand plans of quite the gourmet Smore. These things are so simple to make. Everything gets blitzed, Nigella style, in the food processor, left to rest, then rolled and cut. The ingredients are pantry staples, and taste of plenty of dark brown sugar and flavourful wild flower honey. They are golden and oh so crispy, and, well can you see I really love these graham crackers. It was fairly hard to hold back enough for the challenge recipe as my hand dipped into the container with every entry into the kitchen. I'll be making these again, and again, and again. Hold the cheese whiz.