chocolate, love, and superpowers

A dark square of chocolate makes me weak, drop to the floor weak. Melt a square on your tongue, and well, you know what I’m talking about.
As the chocolate dissolves, the world ceases to exist, it’s locked in some kind of chocolate freeze frame, maybe even a chocolate nirvana. Time becomes irrelevant, thoughts float away, and you are left with nothing but pure sweet cocoa, it’s a bit like having a temporary superpower, only better, because you don’t have to fight any supervillains in order to enjoy said powers.
Then again, chocolate is layered in complexity, it’s also like the 80’s new wave song by Modern English, I Melt With You. Yeah, it melts on the surface but underneath that first layer, chocolate is love and rebellion, like the song. It’s the love that stills time and shouts it’s us-against-you, world and we gonna fight to stay on top.

Chocolate also means movies and impossible crushes, like going to the movies with your best friend to watch Valley Girl for who knows how many times and you both swoon over Randy (Nicolas Cage) with a bucket of popcorn, a bag of sugar coated chocolates, and two cokes between you and you are convinced this is what love is about.
Lucky for us, our choices in love, chocolate, and superpowers do improve with time.
Which brings me to this month’s chocolaty Daring Bakers’ challenge, nanaimo bars, named after the Canadian city. Nanaimo bars require no superpower abilities, however they do call for two layers of melted chocolate and one layer of vanilla custard. Super indeed.
I made a lighter version of the original recipe which calls for granulated sugar, butter, cream, and milk by and used maple syrup, coconut oil, and coconut milk. Sweet, but not tooth-achingly sweet. This recipe for homemade gluten-free graham crackers is one for the archives, especially when paired with chocolate.

gluten-free graham wafers

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

nanaimo bars

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
recipe from Lauren of Celiac Teen who adapted it from 101 Cookbooks

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
recipe from Lauren of Celiac Teen

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. Feeding the Saints (A. C. Parker) says

    Oh, I absolutely love your writing on this one. So many memories that we seem to share (god, the 1980s!). And I have to say that I am extremely jealous of your perfect-looking grahams. How'd you do it? Mine were such a shambles (though thankfully it didn't matter for the nanaimos). Your bars make me want to start the challenge all over again, too. Yum. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your thoughtful comments. Can't wait to see what's next from Art & Lemons!

  2. Sue Sparks says

    Your graham crackers are PERFECT! Your bars aren't too shabby either:) Great job on the challenge!

    I love to let chocolate melt in my mouth, just how you described it…I still don't understand why my husband prefers to bite into a chocolate bar and chew away?!?

  3. Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" says

    Glorious! Chocolate Chocolate Nanaimo bars…who could honestly want more out of a dessert. Beautiful job!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  4. Lauren says

    I always love reading your posts, they take me away as chocolate does to us all.

    You did a beautiful job on my challenge and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Lisa Michelle says

    Your Nanaimo bars turned out beautiful as did your graham crackers, Nikki! Love the write up, especially the reference to Valley Girl! Like LOVE that movie..fer sure!


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