Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January Daring Bakers Challenge ~ Nanaimo Bars and Graham Wafers!

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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.

Graham Wafers. I do like Graham crackers and usually buy them from the store. Never again, no more. I was down to the wire with this challenge. I started late…2 days before it was due. But so glad I did it.

First of all the recipe was for gluten free and I didn’t have the funds nor the time to search for the 4 different types of flours to produce a gluten free wafer. I also had been in the kitchen a lot this month and didn’t have time to research this challenge. After telling hubby that I was going to skip this challenge I felt major guilt. Anyway, I looked at my co-daring bakers and saw that many of them didn’t do a gluten free wafer either. I saw the ingredients and they were everything that I had in my cabinets! Oh my gosh, this is the easier recipe ever!!! After reading this post, you all should make your own wafers from here on in. Seriously.

I will say that I had trouble with my dough as I don’t think I crumbed up my butter and flour mixture correctly. My dough was very brittle ~see…

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Many complained that it was sticky…well mine wasn’t. It kept falling apart. Thus leading me to believe that my recipe was doomed for failure.

Despite that thought… I continued on. My results????

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These things almost didn’t make it to the bar. These things were so good that I was upset that I halved the recipe. Wow, I made a graham cracker.

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Now on to more deliciousness. The bottom layer of the Nanaimo bar. This layer consist of those wonderful graham crackers that I worked so hard on (yeah right). A mixture of butter, cocoa powder and coconut and nuts as well. Oh, I don’t have nuts. Hmmmmm, I know, I have peppermint candy cane. Great substitution! I grounded up the wafers and grounded up some peppermint candy cane. Added some coconut and the result was so crunchy minty. Nice. This was added to the butter and cocoa and placed in the pan as a chewy base with some crunch! I was excited.

So on to the next step. The Nanaimo recipe required a middle layer. This layer had vanilla pudding or you could use a Bird’s Custard as a substitute. Well, with hubby being a pescatarian and all, I knew that anything with gelatin in it would not be eaten by him. So as I read, I noted that some other bakers used a substitution. The recipe for the middle custard was similar to a buttercream. I had buttercream…and I had strawberries. Why not mix the two??! Result…creamy deliciousness.

Now on to the top. Chocolate. That is it. Chocolate. The recipe called for chocolate melted with butter. Well, I have chocolate ganache in the fridge and by George that was what I was going to use! I reheated and poured this chocolate on top of the creamy strawberry buttercream middle which laid on top of the crunchy minty coconuty chocolaty base. Heavenly.

This Nanaimo bar is apparently favored in Canada. Well, count it as a favorite in my house. Now I am so glad I halved the recipe because this stuff is deadly decadent and delicious. I wanted to wait until it “set up” in the fridge before I took pictures but I was too excited. My buttercream and chocolate are still a bit soft but taste wise…hey, it all goes down the same way.

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Ohhh, my minty, crunchy yet chewy, chocolaty, coconuty, strawberry, creamy, dreamy thingy. How I adore thee.

Thank you Lauren for this great recipe. It was fun…now I must say that you owe me a months worth of gym membership fees because I have to be there everyday after eating one of these bars.

UPDATE: The morning after. Just wanted to show that bottom layer…the bars have set up a bit firmer!

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Please note…my chocolate layer was laid on a bit thicker then it should. Silly mistake…or was it????

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flower Explosion Birthday Cake

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‘Whoa.’  Okay, my first whoa is that I am up at 1:30am blogging. I just finished baking three cakes. Yes you read correctly. I said three. I needed 2 sheet cakes for my decorating class I am attending tomorrow tonight. Christine, my absolutely fantastic, talented mentor of www.notacrumb.com is going to teach me how to carve a cake. My first carved cake is going to be a purse. Also, she is going to show me how to fill a stacked cake and smooth buttercream. This is very much needed as you will read about soon. Okay…

Back to the ‘Whoa!’ Second ‘Whoa’ is this cake. Yes, this cake.

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My ‘Whoa’ is cause this wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I started. It worked out in the end but this cake gave me more issues then I ever had. I know issues are going to come. That is the name of the game. It is about taking a vision and applying it. Trying to make it work. I had to keep in mind that this is new to me and sometimes the simpler a cake may seem it could be the hardest to complete.

Anyway, I had trouble stacking this cake and I had trouble with my buttercream. But it was still fun to fix the problem and know that I could get through it.

The flowers are made of gumpaste and I took 3 nights to do them. I painted them with luster dust…the cake does shimmer. In the end this cake turned out pretty good. I was happy and learned a lot from her. I heard the birthday lady enjoyed it too! It was yellow cake filled with strawberry buttercream. It was soooo gooooood!!

Okay…one more just for fun. ‘Whoa!!!’ Keep in mind it is now 2 am and my mind is wandering and so are my fingers. Say goodnight Karin.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

SpongeBob Squarepants Birthday Cake

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I was up for the Challenge. A dear friend wanted a birthday cake for her 4 year old son. She told me he loved SpongeBob Squarepants. I was excited. Nervous…but I knew she knew I was just getting into this cake thing…


Anyhoo, I also knew this cake would be a lot of fun. I wanted to try things I hadn’t tried already. One of which was using rice krispie treats to mold a figure. I wish I would have done this with my daughters Foofa Cake. But oh, well. You bake and you learn right?


SpongeBob cake was a yellow cake with buttercream filling and frosting. I used my favorite yellow cake recipe from allrecipes.com. Easy enough. The hardest for me was getting the water to be a mixture of blue and green without it looking like I tried to hard.


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SpongeBob himself was rice krispies covered in fondant. The sign is actually gingerbread painted with royal icing. I covered the cake with chocolate wafers to act as a fence in which SpongeBob is chilling swimming. However, he does want you to join him in his underwater abyss!


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I rolled up some fondant and gumpaste for the border. To get the marble effect I added some of the blue buttercream before I rolled. Neat huh?


Before I forget. I have to tell you about my error. I decided to add Patrick, Spongebob’s sidekick, at the last minute. I molded him out the rice krispies and covered him. It took me a long time to cover hi because of his odd star shape. Anyway, he totally took the shine away from his Sponge friend…so I omitted him. But it was only after a long consideration and alterations to make him work.


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Yeah, I pretty much cut him down to nothing before coming up with my final decision to leave him off.


Sorry Patrick. Maybe I should have made a sidekick cake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fish Baked in Wine

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I am so late posting this but I have been quite busy during the holiday season. We had Thanksgiving (yes, I said Thanksgiving) over our cousin Gina’s house this year. Everybody was required to bring a dish. My dish was chosen for me….fish. So it was wide open. I wasn’t sure whether I should fry some tilapia fillets or bake a salmon. I did neither.


I remember being over a friends house in Bermuda, before I ever even thought about cooking, and he was baking a whole fish. This would freak some people out. You know, seeing the fish tail and the eye…ewww…that eye! Didn’t freak me out though. I was intrigued by it. I watched him carefully.


I took what I learned by watching and decided to try it myself. His method of baking a whole fish was one that I did for years. Well, this isn’t it.


I wanted to do something different. Yes, I choose the opportunity when I had to present my fish dish to family and friends and some of whom I didn’t know to try “something different”.


I found this Fish Baked in Wine when I googled for baked fish recipes. Not rocket science right. Palachinka's BlogSpot had this great recipe and a good looking fish picture to go along with it. Shoot, if hers looked this good then I can give it a shot!


It is a very easy recipe. I followed it exactly but I chose to use 3 Pink Snappers. I will admit that I added some Old Bay Seasoning and some Paprika to give it some color and oomph.


I think she turned out nicely!


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Ewwwwww…those eyes!! I had an uncle that actually used to suck the eyes out of fish head. Now that is ewwwwww.


The best thing about leftover fish head is making my hubby a fish soup. Take all the left overs on this plate and throw it in a soup pot and put some water and some vegetable broth. Also add seasonings of your choice and eventually the fish meat will break away from bone (I remove most of the bone when this happens) and you got a great fish head soup!!


Thanks Palachinka for the recipe. It was a great recipe enjoyed by all. There wasn’t any fish left! This is definitely a keeper.


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