Little known to most of the world, the Nanaimo bar has been gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds. Once nothing more than the humble regional specialty of Nanaimo, British Columbia, recipes for this no-bake cookie bar have spread through the pages of the internet like wildfire, so that they’ve become a staple in countless bakers’ repertoires. Easy enough for the most inexperienced cook or busy housewife to pull off, in addition to the opportunity they offer for flavor customization in the custard layer, it’s easy to see their appeal. For the senior baker looking for an exciting and perhaps a bit demanding new project to tackle, however, they could fall rather short.
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.
Starting with homemade gluten-free graham crackers upped the ante slightly, but I’m sorry to say that I just didn’t find the challenge itself too stimulating, to say the least. Chocolate, vanilla; Cookie, creme; Been there, done that. Adjusting the flavors to include strawberry and thus create a Neapolitan Nanaimo helped to shake things up a bit, if only a very little bit.
Opting to forgo the frosting-like filling originally recommended in favor of a a sliceable strawberry pudding layer, my bars were quickly shaping up into more of a dessert than cookie. Going along with that train of though, I sliced the pieces a bit larger than advised, and set each slice atop a thin smear of chocolate sauce, to be accompanied by a scoop of strawberry sorbet.
Don’t let my lack of enthusiasm fool you into thinking this was a lack-luster dish- The rate at which it disappeared definitely proves otherwise! The simple construction and fairly unimaginative interpretation on my part just failed to spark my enthusiasm. A perfectly delicious dessert in its own right, the Nanaimo just isn’t really my baking style, but I can’t say I protested too much when it came time to serve.