“I’d consider going home, making a nice tray of Nanaimo bars, lying in bed and watching TV — that’s what I like doing.” -A Mighty Wind
This week I discovered another noteworthy entrant to add to the list: the Nanaimo bar.
Nanaimo bars (pronounced nuh-NIE-mo… isn’t that just fun to say?)are a renowned British Columbia confection of mysterious origin. Now, if you’re anything like me, the key words “Canadian”, “mysterious”, and “confection” are all you needed to hear to be intrigued. If you are not like me, and mystery-shrouded deserts of the great North do not instantly arrest your full curiosity, I will add that these are some seriously delish bar cookies.
Crunchy, chocolatey, creamy, vanilla-ey, sweet, heavenly, and addicting are all applicable adjectives. YUMMY is the number one word that comes to mind, but even that isn’t quite strong enough for my taste.
Please don’t be put off by my sketchy-looking photos. The chocolate top layer decided to go all funky on me. It is not supposed to look like this:
The funky chocolate didn’t compromise the overall deliciousness of the bars, which is what really counts.
Nanaimos are a bit of trouble to prepare (not difficult, just time consuming) but they’re worth it.
The all-important recipe, found at The Curvy Carrot:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups crushed (use your food processor) Digestive Biscuits or graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped ( I used pecans.)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or instant vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Prepare a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, making sure to spray all the corners.
2. For the base: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar and cocoa powder.
4. In a small separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg.
5. Very slowly, add the beaten egg to the warm butter mixture, whisking constantly.
6. Return the saucepan to medium-low heat, and whisk constantly (about 2 minutes) until the mixture thickens.
7. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla, digestive biscuits (or graham crackers), coconut and walnuts, mixing thoroughly.
8. Using your hands or a buttered rubber spatula, gently press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and chill until firm. ***You can place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes or refrigerate for about an hour or so.
9. For the middle layer: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
10. Slowly add the whipping cream, custard powder (or pudding mix), vanilla, and powdered sugar on low speed until well combined. **If the mixture is too thick, add a few more drops of cream. If it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.
11. Spread the middle layer over the chilled base layer and refrigerate until firm (about 20 minutes or so).
12. For the top layer: In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate chips and butter until smooth, stirring occasionally.
13. Evenly pour and spread the chocolate layer over the middle layer and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
14. Once set and firm, cut the bars into squares. YUM!
Individual serving size!