Legendary Nanaimo Bars

In the air:
Somebody That I Used to Know – Walk off the Earth (Gotye – Cover)

Although other cities have tried to call it their own, Nanaimo B.C lays claim to the Nanaimo Bar, a sweet 3 layered cookie confection that requires no baking. The story is that a housewife in B.C. entered a magazine contest for chocolate squares. She won the contest with her “Nanaimo Bar” and a Canadian treasure was born.

There are many variations of this treat. Some add mint, some make it coffee flavoured or even use candy bars to change it up. What would a baking class about bars and squares be without a lesson on Nanaimo Bars? It was no shock to see this recipe in my syllabus.

Week #1 of Class # 3

So back to it, 6 weeks of class begins again. I’m in a new kitchen with a table of people who share my point of view – we should be having fun while we bake. Today we laughed, reminisced about butter thieves and struggled with gas ovens. What a terrific start =)

I always walk by the Nanaimo Bars in the grocery store. For me, they are not something I ordinarily reach for when I want something sweet but I have always been intrigued about how they are made.

The recipe can be broken down into three components – base, filling and topping. The base is made of graham cracker crumbs, butter, cocoa, egg, shredded coconut (my least favourite) and chopped walnuts. A quick mix together and then it is pressed into the bottom of the pan.

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To make the filling, cream together butter, custard powder, milk and icing sugar until a thick but fluid consistency is reached. The mixture reminds me of white glue. I know that visual is unappetizing but I call it like I see it. If it helps it tastes of pure vanilla sugar. Then layer this on top of the crumb crust and cool until hardened.

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While the filling hardens, we make the topping which is simply a chocolate ganache – cream brought to a boil poured over chocolate couverture which melts and is mixed with the cream. It is then poured over the filling. So glossy!!

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I love how no oven is involved. Once all the layers are complete, throw it into the fridge to cool and set. This is what the end result is:

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Ok, I normally associate Nanaimo bars with being super sweet and knowing there is coconut in it just turns me off but they still turned out ok. I’m grateful this recipe is not super sweet and the creaminess of the chocolate topping and custard filling contrasts nicely against the nutty crust. I know a few people who will enjoy these and I can’t wait to let them eat it all!! =)

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