Well, i’m a day late with posting though i had the challenge completed a few weeks ago! 🙂

My overall impression of these new treats (the first time i tasted these) was good – the filling was a bit sweet, and the chocolate cracked when you cut the bars, but the textures were interesting and i loved the bottom layer- i could have just eaten that by its self!

Mom made the graham crackers ahead of time – and did them from scratch – but no pictures. we were  both a little skeptical that they tasted a little burnt when eaten by themselves – but they tasted great inside the bottom layer when we finally got the whole thing completed.

they were a lot of work though for just an 8×8 pan, but they were tasty anyway 🙂

Here’s what happened:

our goal

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
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

Directions:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. 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.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. 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.
9. 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
Ingredients:

For 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) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) 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)

For Nanaimo Bars — 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

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. 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.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

HERE GOES!

the homemade graham crackers

the homemade graham crackers

grinding the nuts

bottom layer components: nuts, graham crackers and coconut

bottom layer components: nuts, graham crackers and coconut

the left over graham cracker crumbs

bottom layer pressed into the pan

middle layer goes on

...and gets smoothed

Mom melts chocolate for the top layer

chocolate gets poured on top

and gets smoothed out

post refrigeration, mom starts a slice

the first cut came out a little ... well, mangled 🙂

next one's a little better - the chocolate kept breaking!

and then we get one that looks really cool 🙂

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Imelda Marcos and I are born of the same tree, i swear.

i may not be in the position to match her shoe for shoe, but i counted my shoes the other day and I can account almost 70 pairs of shoes inside my house – right now accessible in 15 seconds. yes. almost 70 pairs of shoes. and proud of it 🙂

enjoy:

The regular shoes!

and the fancies!

Heel tunnel! (and my laundry! 🙂

ohh la la!

Pootie had to come approve the selection 🙂

… She’s fancy – i think she liked ’em 🙂

Today, i cleaned. if you know me, you know what kind of accomplishment this can be. one of my major conquests? the bookshelf. ONLY books and photo albums were allowed to stay…on the bottom two shelves…pretty much….yeah.

ANYWAY – i decided to share with you my menagerie of odd books, interests and tidbits that grace my little literary corner:

ok, here goes; top to bottom, left to right.

TOP SHELF!

The Undomestic Goddess (btw – SO not true! : )), Sophie Kinsella

She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb

Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Sophie Kinsella

Can You Keep a Secret?, Sophie Kinsella (sensing a theme? these are all the series of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series – something i SO discovered before the tacky movie came out!)

Rescuing Rose, Isabel Wolff

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Tom Robbins

The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella (again apparently?!)

Taltos, Anne Rice

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Sophie Kinsella

Violin, Anne Rice

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte ( <–LOVE)

Lasher, Anne Rice

(yeah, so i don’t organize them in any reasonable way – how alphabetized is YOUR shelf?!)

Summer Sisters, Judy Blume ( ive read this maybe 1,000 times)

Redneck Haiku, Mary K. Witte

Second Nature, Alice Hoffman (one i passed the BSC days and out read the writing skills of Ann M. Martin, i read every one of these books written!)

If you Like Pina Coladas …, Al Hoff

A Promising Man, Elizabeth Young

Pretty Little Dirty, Amanda Boyden

Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress, Shelly Mazzanoble  (I SWEAR THIS ONE’S BORROWED–ANGUS!)

The Nanny Diaries, Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus

(the nameless white spine:) The Counterpane Fairy, Katharine Pyle (impossible to find actual editions 0f – my grandma has one and i remember her reading it to me when i was little)

The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog, Nancy Ellis-Bell (she’s my boss!)

Bartlett’s Words for the Wedding, Brett Fletcher Lauer and Aimee Kelley (a left over from my friend’s June wedding – they’re just to the right – and my bridesmaid pic on the right.) These sit atop a few framed photos, my real estate and notary certificates and one three-ring bidner.

BOTTOM SHELF!

Essentials of Real Estate Economics, Dennis J. McKenzie and Richard M. Betts (you’re real estate agent should be informed, no!?)

Gateway to the Redwoods, The Willits News (this was self-published locally by our newspaper – who i work for. I dont know how else to get one than coming into the office!)

A Guide to Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, Beth Brown and Bruce Presley (an old textbook im hoarding)

(the next two are two of my faves – have you SEEN postsecret?!)

My Secret: A PostSecret Book, Frank Warren

The Secret Lives of Men and Women, Frank Warren

Bentley’s Snowflakes CD-ROM and Book, W. A. Bentley

Photoshop 6 Down and Dirty Tricks, Scott Kelby (funny cause im embarking on cs4 as we speak!)

Web Design and Development Using XHTML, Jeffrey Griffin, Carlos Morales, and John Finnegan

Photoshop CS3, Visual Quickstart Guide, ElaineWeinmann

Your Goats, Gail Damerow (Just in case i have a question!)

AND NOW, THE HOLY GRAIL – IVE READ THIS BOOK SSSSSSSOOOOOOOO MANY TIMES!! 1056 pages in the paperback – i have the hardcover!

The Witching Hour, Anne Rice

Lasher, Anne Rice

The Irritable Male Syndrome, Jed Diamond (another former boss!)

When Mother was Eleven-Foot Four; A Christmas Memory, Jerry Camery-Hoggatt

The Hidden Messages in Water, Masaru Emoto and David A. Thayne (more snowflake goodness!)

The Blue Day Book, Bradley Trevor Greive

The Meaning of Life, Bradley Trevor Greive

then, 11 photo albums including my parent’s wedding album, my days in high school, lots of pets and animals and much more.

There is also a green photo album laying on the top of the bottom shelf’s books since it was too tall…and a few random framed pictures that i dont want up and dont want to toss…

On top of the big green album is my one and only copy of  International Tattoo Art magazine. Its really cool 🙂

…….

What’s on your shelf??

The Willits Rotary Club holds their annual Crab Sale on two winter morning weekends. Through my job as a photographer and writer for our local newspaper, I went over and took some photos of the festivities.

Coming from a vegetarian, it was pretty gross.

Coming from a photographer, there were a bunch of great shots 🙂

Here’s a few below, and you can check out all of them here

a cooked crab smiles at the camera

Bill Jack of the Willits Rotary quickly hauls freshly cooked crabs to the washing station

Willits Rotary members pose with the sea of crabs

More goofy crab moments 🙂

the sea of crabs

It’s officially my birthday 🙂

Not only is this the day of my official existence, but it is also the date of the December Daring Bakers Challenge post and i decided that as it was to be done on my birthday, christmas and the holiday hooplah took over the month of December and 1,000,000 other things were happening, i would take creative liberty with the “gingerbread house” theme hoping that the DB’ers would see that it was fate with the birthday date to let me go at it my way and make gingerbread people standing in front of a template house and call that gravy for this month’s challenge 🙂

Here are some of the many people (including a skeleton! 🙂 created by my efforts (and the template that i was planning to use on the gingerbread house until time surpassed practicality)

that's my little frenchman in the foreground! notice his moustache!?

the house template looms behind!

a cutout chimney closeup!

sorry the house never made it – i hope that this counts enough – the thought was there – i promise! time just ran out! 😦  Merry late christmas to everyone regardless – and i hope you all have a great new years too!!! 🙂

Mom and I finally had a successful year making these mint meringues – something that rarely happens – and attempts are only made at my constant pleading every christmas.

this year, it was not raining, which, YES MOM – MAY HAVE BEEN A FACTOR – but, this year i also took…creative(? 🙂 ) liberty with how much i felt like following the directions which i think was more the thing that worked. and, of course i showed them the love. they know mom doesnt like them and assumes theyll fail before the whites are even whipped – but no – i WILLED them to work – and for the first year in MANY – they made it out of the shell/mixer/oven and into a ziplock bag.  i am enjoying one as we speak.

(trying to write a coherent intro is hard when snoop dog is on martha stewart and she thinks he’s referring to the brownies that they are making should be “green brownies”  – she thinks he means chocolate brownies with green sprinkles and cant seem to understand why he would want to use GREEN sprinkles on chocolate. snoop keeps cracking up that martha isnt getting it and the inuendos keep getting stonger. its hilarious!)

HA! Look at the sprinkles!! 🙂

ANYWAY – here’s the recipe:

2 egg whites – room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 tooth picking of green gel (paste) coloring
6 oz chocolate chips

preheat oven to 200*F.

Use a metal bowl – or glass – NO PLASTIC – and metal beaters – make sure all equipment used is TOTALLY CLEAN – any amount of grease at all will ruin the batter. I wiped the clean bowl with a fresh paper towel very carefully just to be sure!!

Beat the egg whites in a kitchen aid til foamy (45 sec – 1 min? just til they’re frothy) and then add sugar on high speed VERY slowly until whites hold a stiff, glossy peak – (about 5-7 min? – it will keep its ribbon-ey/elephant nosey (?) texture from the beaters in the rest of the meringue left in the bowl – like a medium-whipped whipped cream )

add extract and food coloring – beat another minute or so, fold in chocolate chips.

drop tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheet- NO BUTTER – one inch apart – bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour until outside is dry – BUT NOT BROWN. cool on sheet for five minutes before removing.

DO NOT open oven while baking. then, the best part: DEVOUR WITH GLEE AND BLISS!! 🙂

Let me know how it goes – success?!

As this is the 11th hour of the Daring Baker’s November Challenge – cannolis  – i am going to do this post mostly in photos – that’s the best part anyway – no? 🙂

rolling the dough through the kitchen aid - apparently essential with such hard dough

getting thinner

ahh - i can see the light!

check on the oil temp

cutting out rounds with a cookie cutter tin lid

mom (was so excited to hear that cannolis were on the menu - she insisted we do them together) works away

mom wraps the first one ...

and it goes into the oil

...and it pops right open 😦 and the next 5 or so do too

in true capricorn spirit, i decide there is no way a cannoli shell will get the best of us and i start a sealing process - PINCHING.

take that oil bubbles! lets GO!

mom also starts holding them down ...

and success looms near!

and we start cranking them out

and they start stacking up!

and we have a little photoshoot

...well, wouldnt you have done the same?! 🙂

then mom gets a little silly ...

yep, she's goofy ...

..and another close-up 🙂

and work begins on the dipping chocolate

and the dipping commences ...

aww so pretty

dipped and good to go

chocolate also goes into the filling

complete with pistachios, cinnamon and rose water!

piping into the dipped shells

all filled and delicious!!

All done!

Thanks for all your help mom – glad we got to bake together!

me and mom!!

!! xoxoxo 🙂

Here’s poot in all her raspberry box glory:

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1026092057a

1013092034(2)

1002091639a(3)

 

I lurve her 🙂

first of all, my first experience with the DB,

FAILURE!

ok, now that i’ve got that out of my system – let’s talk macaroon, and Daring Bakers:

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S.

She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

THE PLAN:

Ingredients
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

THE TRUTH:

THE_BEGINING

getting ready for the macarooning

things are looking good – eggs separated, nuts and flour awaiting addition…things are on the move toward macaroons.

WHISK_IN_MOTION

whisking those egg whites

fun with slow shutter speed, no? good ‘ol Kitchenaid!

STIFF_PEAKS

victory! that looks stiff to me!

whoo! still lookin’ on track!

UHHH

hmmm....things start to go askew?

looks a little chunky, no? this is where i start to worry a little…

DALLOPS

all piped out

i forged ahead though and here we have little dallops…fingers were crossed!

BOTTOMS

hmmm....underdone and overdone bottoms! now that's talent!

so after the initial bake and then the second bake – both as scheduled in the recipe – the ones on the right came out first. what happened? well, the ones on the right were, well chewy and underdone. the ones on the left spent a bit more time in the oven – and they look oddly like pancakes – no? they came out CRISP. drat. drat indeed.

neither the done or underdone were puffy or airy.

too heavy flour/nuts?

not beaten enough eggwhites?

crappy oven?

baker gene-less?

im still baffled.

….

then…

i had an epiphany – (not only on how to spell the word epiphany after a weird series of text messages this morning with an ex boyfriend) but also on what to do for the filling.

what does one do with five egg yolks one wonders?

CURD_BEFORE

yeah there were five, i broke one, oops, i know! 🙂

well, that my friends, i certainly know what to do with that:

MAKE LEMON CURD!

i don’t know about you, but i LOVE lemon curd. with deep abiding passion i love lemon curd.

like it was fate, five egg yolks is exactly the number needed for my tried and true lemon curd recipe permantly mounted to my fridge after a renegade lemon heist from a stranger’s ignored and “fruitful” lemon tree last spring.

GOSEPEL

ladies and gentlemen, i give you the gospel.

the gospel that is, in my own slightly skewed way of writing recipes.

Also, i dont know if you know, but i write for a newspaper for a living and spend a lot of time writing so when it comes to recipes – im lazy and just want to remember the highlights and highpoints of the task at hand (note the constant leaving out of letters, combining words and symbols and flurry of abbreviations throughout the written recipe)

i will decipher for you though the method as the ingredients are rather legible:

“2x boiler” =double boiler.

“yoks+sug – add juiezest” = combine yolks and sugar in top of double boiler, whisk over low heat, add juice and zest …

WHISKING

whisking away

… whisk until thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon (reaches nappe).”

NAPPE

ahh...nappe!

“buttr 1x” = once thickened, add small pieces of butter one at a time until incorporated taking bowl on and off heat as necessary.

CURD2

so beautiful!

CURD

ok, one more beauty shot 🙂

ok – SO – i waited for the curd to cool a bit, but it never gets super jello-like with this recipe anyway, (a fact i appreciate!) and so i went to fill the done-er macaroons and, well, it wasnt quite as i’d hoped.

MACAROON_FILLED3

hmm...filled, but not quite puffy 🙂

MACAROON_FILLED

it looks like a drooling clamshell, no? i know that wasnt the challenge point, but i cant help but giggle at it...?

so, after biting though my model, i just ended up with the following as my method of eating thereafter:

SOLUTION

it was just as good 🙂

ahh well, maybe next month’ll be lemon curd, eh? hey, a girl can dream, cant she?  🙂

CURD_RED_POT

ok, one final lemon curd love photo, even better in the cute little red pot, no?? 🙂

The next installment of my mom (code name “DQ”)’s handiwork – the Chocolate Tulip!

Can anyone guess what DQ stands for?!   🙂

The chocolate tulip

The chocolate tulip

it was another of the bite-sized desserts that went to the fundraiser…this was a really bitter sweet ganache in a buttery crust – almost like a truffle in a tart pan 🙂

Here’s the group shot:

a field of tulips? :)

a field of tulips? 🙂