03 June 2009

Nanaimo Bars

This is one of the longest coming recipes in my entire repertoire.  I first tasted these in 1999 while living in Toronto, and I was instantly hooked.  I wondered why I had never heard of them before moving to Canada, and with a little research found that they are just one of those things that Canadians have that those of us south of the 48th parallel do not, like Wonderbars, universal health care, and fuel sold in litres.  Needless to say, I enjoyed them thoroughly during my northern sojourn, but later returned to the States where I have lived almost a decade without their decadence.  A decade is long enough, so after searching, comparing, and a little grocery shopping, I finally produced my first batch of real, tried and true Nanaimo Bars.  As I understand it, there are literally hundreds of variations of this recipe, but this one was awarded official status by the city of Nanaimo in the 1980s.

It's important to combine the elements and not rely on random tastes of individual components.  For example, the bottom layer is quite dark with equal parts sugar and cocoa, while the middle layer is almost overly sweet.  All together, however, it is pure divinity.  I didn't want to buy cream for 2 Tbsp worth, so I substituted raw unskimmed milk my sister had on hand.  Also, the pudding substituted for the custard powder is perfectly sublime.  These disappeared into the mouths and hearts of old and young alike.  You want to be popular at your next get together?  Bring Nanaimo with you.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. [I didn't have a double boiler, so I used a saucepan over low heat.]  Add egg and stir to cook and thicken.  Remove from heat.  Stir in crumbs, coconut, and almonds.  Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Middle Layer
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp cream [I used raw, unskimmed milk]
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder [instant vanilla pudding works as well—I used it.]
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Cream all ingredients together.  Beat until light, and spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat.  Cool.  Once cooled, but still liquid, pour over second layer, spread with an offset spatula, and chill in refrigerator.  When chocolate has set, cut into bars and serve.  Get yours fast, because they're not going to last long!

1 comment:

Mom said...

Looks divine! Dare we try it? Maybe if we do it while Heather and Joe and family are here!