What’s in a Nanaimo Bar?…

Nanaimo bars

Strippers and drunks.

I wonder how many other fellow bloggers used this old joke as a title to this month Daring Bakers’ challenge post. The host – Lauren of Celiac Teen chose gluten-free graham wafers and Nanaimo bars as the January challenge. She based her recipe on the 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca. With the Olympics so close, her choice seems thoughtful and sweet (literally, as well :)

I made a very much original version here. Since, frankly, flavored differently these bars wouldn’t be quite Nanaimo anymore. They still would be bars, and Canadians have probably about hundred of different kinds (I know for sure, being a Vancouverite myself). Anyway, these are traditional Nanaimo bars, loved by so many Canadians.

Although, I would still like to say a word about one particular ingredient – Bird’s custard powder. Available not everywhere, it might seem mysterious and maybe even magical. But it is not. It consists of cornstarch, food color (artificial), and flavor (artificial as well). The Bird’s custard powder can be entirely and successfully omitted. You don’t need any additional cornstarch (there’s plenty of it in the confectioners’ sugar already). Just add about a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the buttercream mixture. If you are after a yellowish tint, I recommend adding a drop of natural food color.

Continue with the recipe »

Fresh Mozzarella and Prosciutto Filled Focaccia

There are always some plans for weekends, and cooking is seldom the first priority unless we are having people over. So, having pizza or filled focaccia on our weekend menu is a good choice since most of work – making the dough – is done in advance. All I need to do the following day is to fix a quick salad while this thing is baking.

This focaccia is doubled-baked. First, it’s baked in a pan, then split horizontally, generously brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, filled, and baked again until the cheese is melted. If you are a happy owner of a panini grill, I definitely recommend to use it here. Unfortunately, I had to follow a more conventional way of cooking.

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Winnie the Pooh Cake

I love the story and adore each and every character. I would probably make all of them if only the cake was larger and comfortable for everyone.

Inside, there is a rich chocolate cake, moistened with kirsch syrup, filled with strawberry jam and kirsch-flavored Swiss buttercream. The figures are molded from gum paste. The only thing inedible is a bee-holding wire.

Click to see close-up photos…

Chocolate Matcha Poker Chip Cookies

These are actually easier to make than it might seem. The process is similar to forming the Checkerboard cookies, only here the core is a matcha-colored cylinder which is subsequently wrapped into striped dough (alternating chocolate and matcha strips), then followed by a layer of chocolate dough.

Obviously, the cookies can be turned into chocolate-vanilla, chocolate-coffee, or any other variety you can think of.

Continue with the recipe »

Skiing Bear Cake

I was asked to make “something with snowflakes and red skis” for a little boy’s 2nd birthday celebration. His early affection to skiing doesn’t come as a surprise since the kid lives in Whistler.
The cake was chocolate filled with milk and white chocolate ganache. The bear is from gum paste.

Click to see more photos…

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