Canadian Thanksgiving: Nanaimo Bars

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Can you identify this famous bar?

I first ate these, oddly enough, at a local restaurant.  Josh and I were newly married (pre-Muffin), and were making a rare splurge out to eat.  This is the same restaurant known for its tomato-basil soup (that…well…if you remember from the post…it definitely isn’t Le Mad’s), but they have a big to-go refrigerated case.

I had heard Josh mention (quite a few times) Nanaimo bars.  I had heard them mentioned in Corner Gas (well…Nanaimo-style Saskatchewan Bars).

I had never seen them before.  And I had never tasted them before.

I should note that, just as with the tomato-basil soup, this restaurant didn’t quite corner the market on Nanaimo Bars.  They were missing something…namely custard powder, I believe.

They were good…just not what I now know to be more Nanaimo-like…Nanaimo-esque?

So, I went on the hunt.  The site that was still then Recipezaar (now Food.com) had a large Canadian contingent.  Someone on there had to have a good Nanaimo Bar recipe.

After a few misses, I located it:  Kittencal’s Best Nanaimo Bars (No Bake).  I do make some alterations.  But, for the most part, I keep the recipe as pure as I can make it.

Nanaimo Bars

Adapted from Food.com

Bottom Layer

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

5 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1 egg, beaten

1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (I actually purchased crumbs specifically for this)

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (Her recipe calls for almonds)

1 cup finely chopped (“fancy” shredded) coconut

Middle Layer

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 scant tablespoons whipping cream

2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (I use Bird’s brand which my sister recently informed me is available at Cost Plus World Market)

2 cups confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar to some)

Top Layer

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon whipping cream (She says optional.  I think it’s completely necessary)

For bottom layer:  On low heat in a saucepan, melt the first three ingredients, remove from heat.  Let the saucepan cool for a few minutes.  Stir in egg to combine and thicken (I’ve not let the mixture cool and had chocolate-flavored scrambled egg before).  Stir in remaining bottom layer ingredients.

Press firmly into prepared ungreased 8×8-inch square Pyrex pan.  The mixture will be crumbly but will appear to become a solid layer once tamped down.

For the middle layer:  cream the middle layer ingredients.  I used my Kitchen Aid for the first time on this attempt and it creates a smoother product than a hand mixer.

Spread over bottom layer.  Refrigerate 10-15 minutes while preparing the top layer.

For the top layer:  microwave chips, cream, and butter for one minute.  Slowly stir or whisk together until the consistency of slightly thick chocolate syrup.

Pour evenly over the middle layer, smoothing out with a spoon, a spoonula, a spatula, or a knife if necessary.

Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting.

The recipe says it makes 16 (which would be 2×2 bars).  I would recommend much smaller squares because at over half a pound of butter, they are very rich.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved (and the only dessert that I prepped for Thanksgiving that my mom or I would eat).

Muffin Approved

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