nanaimo bars and graham wafers.

It’s Daring Baker challenge reveal day and this month it’s all about Nanaimo Bars and 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 www.nanaimo.ca.

As per usual – I used alternative recipes in order to make my bars and wafers vegan. For the Nanaimo bars I used my go-to recipe, which you can find in my original post here. For the graham wafers, I used this fabulous Vegan Yum Yum recipe. I opted to use wheat because that’s what I had on hand, but I hope to try Lauren’s gluten-free version soon as it looks wonderful. Neither my bars nor my wafers are gluten-free.

One thing I have learned after making this recipe countless times since that original Nanaimo post – use a good sharp knife to cut your squares.

Even so, I still managed to crack the chocolate top.

Check out what all the other Daring Bakers are doing by clicking on the logo below – you will be inspired.

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gingerbread house, vegan.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Since the challenge recipes are not vegan I opted to use a vegan gingerbread recipe that I’d had my eye on for a while, posted here on the Veg News site. Now, while this Sticky Fingers recipe is rather delicious, I think it may be better suited to drop cookies than cut-outs or houses. It is very, very sticky. I increased the flour by 1 and 2/3 cups to be able to handle the dough enough for rolling out and cutting out shapes.

It was my husband’s brilliant idea to use the lid of a sugar canister as a template. I let him go to town with his mathematical thing as he twisted the canister lid this way and that over the dough to get the angles just so. If you look closely, you can see the canister imprint on the large pieces that make up the front and back.

We wanted to keep the house tiny since neither of us had ever made a gingerbread house before and we were also fairly unsure as to how our vegan royal icing might fare versus gravity. Speaking of icing, we used this recipe that Vegan Dad was kind enough to share on his blog – and it worked very well. We used toothpicks to help hold the roof to the walls while it dried overnight and I’m happy to say the house did not collapse come morning when we removed them.

The entire house is edible. The house structure is made entirely of gingerbread, six pieces in total, glued together with royal icing and embellished with an inordinate amount of dairy-free chocolate chips, vegan gum drops, black licorice, sour chews, candy canes, candy pearls, hard candy, sprinkles, more royal icing, vegan buttercream, shredded coconut, and sanding sugar. A nut strudel doormat (my husband’s idea) completes our edible abode.

I dare say it’s going to taste rather delicious when we ultimately tear into it. It smells amazing. And who knew Batsy loved coconut?

Happy Holidays to all those celebrating – and best wishes to all for a wonderful New Year.

maple cannoli, vegan.

The Daring Bakers challenge deadline snuck up on me, again. It’s been a rough month. My talented friend Lisa was this month’s challenge host and her choice was truly inspired: Cannoli. I had grand ideas for this challenge from the moment it was revealed and, though I didn’t devote the time I wanted to, I didn’t want to let the opportunity to tackle it slip away unaddressed. So I present my challenge 2 days late, with apologies.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Since I would be making a vegan version of this challenge, I would need an alternative recipe – and I knew exactly which one I’d be using. Last February’s issue of The Vegan Culinary Experience was Italian inspired and it included a perfect-looking recipe for cannoli. I followed the recipe for the cannoli shells and was quite pleased with how they turned out. You can download your free (pdf) copy of the very same issue of The Vegan Culinary Experience (including the cannoli recipe and many, many more recipes) here. And while you’re at it, sign up to be notified when new issues of VCE become available – they’re free and they’re awesome.

For the filling, I knew I wanted to use something that was nut-based and creamy. I had made this delicious almond ricotta before, for (unbelievably delicious) stuffed pasta shells. I used the same recipe as my guide for soaking and preparing the almonds (but left out all the additional savoury ingredients). I processed the almonds until they were completely smooth, added a pinch of sea salt, and added organic maple syrup to taste.

I piped the sweet creamy filling into my cannoli shells, drizzled more organic maple syrup over top and finished it all off with confectioner’s sugar.

Be sure to visit The Daring Kitchen and check out what the other Daring Bakers are up to.