Gluten-free Nanaimo Bars with Cranberry Saffron Custard

A prize winning dessert named after the beautiful of Nanaimo city,the bars are famous Canadian delicacy.Assembled with a crunchy layer of graham crackers,cocoa and coconut,over a cushion of light custard ,and finally topped with a decadent layer of chocolate bite in to the luscious layers,you know this is a simply heavenly confection.
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

The best part about desserts from scratch is ,I get to adjust the sweetness and use the choicest ingredients.I closely followed Lauren's recipe to make the bars gluten free.I ground my own brown rice flour using Vitamix.And bought the Sorghum and Tapioca flour from the Asian store here.And used Virgin pressed coconut oil for the fat in all the three layers.I love berries in desserts,the cranberries over the saffron custard was a splendid match.Had to freeze each layer before proceeding with next.Though I failed to slice them smooth these were totally addictive.

Recipe : Gluten-free Nanaimo Bars with Cranberry Saffron Custard

Lauren's Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:

• Glutinous rice flour does not contain any gluten, as it is made from a type of rice called glutinous (or sweet) rice.
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.
• If making them gluten-free, no wheat, barley, rye, triticale, kamut, spelt, durum, semolina, or other gluten containing ingredients may be used. Removing those ingredients ensures it is safe for those with Celiac Disease and other health issues where gluten causes problems. If you do plan on serving this to someone on a gluten-free diet, also ensure no cross-contamination occurs.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers*
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour) or Brown rice flour
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour or Millet Flour or Almond flour
1/2 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar or 1/4 cup Agave Nectar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL ) Kosher Salt
4 tablespoons (50 g) (1 ½ ounces) Unsalted Organic Butter or Virgin Pressed Coconut oil
1/2 cup Organic Whole Milk
1 tablespoon (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

*To make with wheat,use 2 cups of Whole wheat pastry flour for the gluten-free flours.

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar or agave nectar, 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 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


For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Organic Butter or Organic Virgin Pressed coconut oil
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar or 2 tablespoon Agave Nectar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Organic 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 unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
2 cups Organic Reduced fat Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Corn starch or plain custard powder
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries or any other berry
1/4 cup Agave Nectar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
2 ounces (55 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 ounces (55 g)Bitter-sweet or Dark chocolate
1 tablespoons Unsalted Organic Butter or Virgin Pressed coconut oil

1. For bottom Layer: Melt butter or coconut oil, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir using whisk and thicken(8-10 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.Cool.
2. For Middle Layer:
To Make Saffron Custard :Heat milk with saffron until scalded,slowly stir in the custard powder and 2 tablespoon agave nectar,while whisking it to prevent lumps.Cook for 3-4 minutes until thickened.Spread the mixture over the bottom layer.cover and freeze for 30 minutes before spreading the cranberry layer.
To make Cranberry layer: Cook the berries in 1/2 cup of water and sweetener until soft and thickened about 15 minutes.Cool in fridge for an hour.Spread over the set layer of saffron custard.Keep cool in fridge.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter or coconut oil over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill for another hour.Use a sharp knife to cut in squares.

Thanks Lauren for the fantastic challenge!


eldivenlerim said…
looks very delicious.....
Cool Lassi(e) said…
Its love at first sight for me. Looks divine.
Asha said…
Beautiful. We will be seeing more of these now! :))
Shama Nagarajan said…
am drooling over it dear
Priya Suresh said…
Wow, such a beautiful gluten free nanaimo bars Yas...awesome work..
I LOVE THESE BARS SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! :D Really.. My recipe is different than yours. Why don't you take a look at my blog:)
Rachana said…
am drooling here...awesome work!
Sarah Naveen said…
oh wow!!!that looks super delicious.....
Unknown said…
looks absolutely delicious..
Raks said…
Looks so beautiful and yummy !
MaryMoh said…
Looks very delicious. I'm drooling over this one.
Parita said…
Your nanaimo bars look great, i love the flavors of cranberry and saffron together!
A great take on that classic"i love the idea!


Arlette said…
Oh wow these are awesome, Healthy and gorgeous looking with beautiful flavours...
i wish I did some changes too in the stuffing... It was overly sweet. Different than my recipe..
Dershana said…
this looks fantastic, yasmeen. My god,you have such patience!
Joanne said…
This looks like a truly decadent nanaimo bar. So out of the norm with the cranberries and saffron custard but also so perfectly delicious.
Gita Jaishankar said…
Wow Yasmeen all the clicks look so lovely...the bars look so decadent and delicious :)
Johanna GGG said…
I have seen many nanaimo bars and they all look too sweet but with cranberries it sounds like the perfect way to eat them (sshhhh don't tell the others) - I even want to try your recipe - on my to do list
Lauren said…
Such a fantastic job on my challenge! I love the flavours you made - everything looks so delicious!
Sushma Mallya said…
beautiful bars and a lovely dessert as well
Lori said…
I've been seeing these around and yours look great. I have to admit I might just jump right in and make that crust. I love the use of all those great flours. I've been having a hard time finding glutinous rice around here, not to mention the flour. I'll keep my eye out.
Looks very tempting and the pics are fabulous... Love the fillings and the color am drooling!!!
Jennifer said…
Oh my gosh I love your cranberry saffron custard!!!!! Beautiful!
You ground your own rice flour? Gee, you're ambitious! Did you just use a food processor?
Yasmeen said…
Tasty Eats at Home,
Its the power of Vitamix :D
shaani.ras said…
hai look nice.
Gala said…
wow what a creative filling!
Deepa G Joshi said…
wow, love these sweeties..already drooling.
zorra said…
Good idea to use some cranberries, so the bars get a bit more healthy. ;-)
shaz said…
Like the sound of cranberry, saffron custard. They look beautiful with the swirls.
Anonymous said…
A very indulgent dessert.
Sandy said…
This is such a lovely combination of flavors.I missed the challenged this time.
Sara said…
Yum! These look awesome. I love the idea of using cranberries in the filling...I thought the filling was a bit too sweet for my taste, so adding some tart fruit would really add a lot! Yum. :)
Sanjana said…
These look AMAZING!
Sandy said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annmarie said…
The saffron custard and cranberry look so fantastic together.Brilliant twist to the delicious bars.
Vivamag said…
Hi.. This will be a delicious dish..
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