Friday, February 5, 2010

Caramelized Apple & Salted Caramel Nanaimo Bars - DB January 2010

Who's been a bad daring baker?
Who's been a bad blogger?

I am *sigh*

And to make it worst, I've got just about a thousand excuses. I thought about sparing you guys by simply using the classic excuse of "life just get in the way", but, to be honest, I NEED TO VENT! So, lookout folks, this will be a long one! Don't worry, for those of you who come here for the Daring Baker challenge, just skip my rantings and look for the bold part of this post.

Believe me folks when I say this past 2 and a half months is not exactly the highlight of my life. Yes, I'm glad to be home and reunited again with my family. For once after more than 7 years, the Soehoed family household is complete again. And for every new thing, there's a lot of adjusting to do. And the problem over problem that are happening around my family didn't exactly make it easier.

The first big thing would be my grandma passing away the night I was suppose to fly to Jakarta which immediately followed by the rapid deterioration of my grandpa's health from the unbearable pain of losing the one thing that keeps him together all these years. If this would happen in my Mum's side of the family, there won't be so much drama. But my Dad's side of the family is something else. I don't even think 'dysfunctional' is a strong enough word to describe it. The 'drama' still lingers until this day, almost 100 days after my grandma's passing. I have mastered a state of ignorance when it comes to my Dad's family, but the thing that bothers me when this 'drama' is on, is how sensitive and stressed out it made my mum and dad. They become very edgy and like any volcano, can erupt with rage at anytime, without prior warning. Small stuff (or shall I say, my bad habit or mistakes) can turn into huge endless argument. Because like me, my parents can be a control freak (to be more politically correct, 'may have some control issues'), so when I don't do things or behave differently as they might have behave in the same situation, they will try to correct it. They are not that controlling, but for someone who's been independent for quite some time, it can be hard to handle sometimes.

Second of all, my emotional state. Put a dash of unemployment stress, add a pinch of culture shock, then a cup of homesick, mix it all together then you'll get stress and depression. Not the bad kind that I actually a threat to myself, just the kind where my mood is so foul, everything just becomes wrong and nothing can make me happy. If I sit all day, i'll get bored and would agitate my mom more. If I go out too much, I feel guilty for spending money when I don't have any income coming in. I've been in this state before, baking actually helped me back on my feet the last time. But I've packed a lot of weight lately which sweet treats won't exactly help brings back my happy mood. I don't exactly understand the concept of 'doing nothing'. This state only made worst by the time I spent in the hospital. yess.. I was admitted to the hospital for 6 days for being tested positive for dengue fever and typhoid. yup, I got the double whammy. M said it's Jakarta's way to welcome me back to the tropics. I live here for the first 17 years of my life and not even once I am even close to these two common tropical illness. On top of the 6 crappy days in the hospital, I still had to endure an extra 2 weeks of recovery time since my stamina was just so low and if I'm not careful, the virus might came back, hitting twice as hard. For you unfamiliar with these two illnesses, eventhough they are considered common, but without proper caution, they can be quite deadly. This is also why I miss last month's DB challenge. I've made the gingerbread house, a very ambitious one as well I might add. Due to my bestfriend's wedding commotion happening, I didn't finish decorating the house in time. When I had time to finish it, that's when I started to get high fevers which then leads to hospital time. By the time I came home from the hospital, my stained glass windows have already melted, and my terrace has broken, in short, I give up!

I still don't regret coming home. It's all a matter of self-adjustments so I can finally settle down. It's getting better and better everyday. I'm more used to living with my parents again, I'm starting to find things to do, projects to do while I sort out my career direction. and... i'm starting to bake again.

Aanndd.. here's the part where I stop my whining and get back to this month's DB challenge. This is the first time I ever heard about Nanaimo bars and my first time making graham crackers from scratch. I might say it is becoming one of my favourites. I didn't make it gluten-free though, it's not that easy to find gluten-free flour here. The nanaimo bars itself is also a treat and not at all hard to make.

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

For the flavours, I chose to add caramelized apple in the custard part and a thin layer of salted caramel in between the crust and the custard. these bars are quite rich, that's why I only made about a quarter of the recipe. Even that makes about 10 of 2cm x 5cm bars with a thickness of around 3 cm.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I'll have you know that I read your rant all the way through, and I agree... you have a lot going on. You deserved that vent.