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Nanaimo Bars

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

Let me start off by saying that I really loved the results of this recipe. They are very rich and I can only eat a few bites but I savor each and every bite that I take. Even better, the bars themselves are very easy to make and assemble. The challenge was the Gluten-Free Graham Wafers.

I have not had much experience with gluten-free cooking. Strike that. Until this recipe, I had not had any experience with gluten-free cooking whatsoever. Fortunately, I was able to find all of the flours that I needed to make the gluten-free graham wafers and I was able to prepare the dough according to the recipe instructions. But, it was one of the hardest doughs I have ever worked with, it was extremely sticky and difficult for me to roll as it was sticking to the rolling pin and cutting board no matter how much rice flour I sprinkled over the mixture.  With that said, the end result did taste very good and I’ve been snacking on the leftovers.

If you have the time, or need a gluten-free dessert I do suggest making the gluten-free graham crackers, however, the next time I make these (and there will be a next time) I may skip all of the work of making homemade graham crackers and purchase some instead.

For 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

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

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

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.

Leave a Comment

  • Reply
    January 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

    What kind of vanilla pudding mix? Instant, cooked, or either? thanks

  • Reply
    lisa @dandysugar
    January 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Your bars look great! Yes, they were a little too rich for me but I did like the graham crackers! Awesome job!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Yummm, they look gorgeous!!!!
    I thought the graham crackers were my favourite part of the recipe – I’ll make them again, but not the bars ;)

  • Reply
    January 28, 2010 at 7:23 am

    These were very rich but so so good! Your bars look wonderful, I love that nubby crust. :>

  • Reply
    Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes
    January 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Oh my goodness! That looks soooo gooood! I’ll never be able to stop eating it once I put it in my mouth. :)

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Good job! I also made the gluten-free version and thought the Graham crackers were divine!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I agree that these bars are rich. I really liked them, though. I couldn’t eat too many at one time haha. Great job on the challenge!!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

    yummmm, your nanaimo bars version looks great!
    Great job!
    (also a DB)

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 10:31 am

    i loved the graham crackers in this challenge the best – the bars were nice but very sweet even though i cut the sugar amount in half!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Oh my those look rich!

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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