Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Nanaimo Bars

On Canada Day, I was wanting to make a festive treat for my family to have. But I didn't want to go crazy with white and red - I wanted it to be festive and a little patriotic without screaming Canada :). Nanaimo Bars are named after a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia called Nanaimo! They are one of my favorite treats and they are so fun to bake!

Nanaimo bars are composed of 3 layers - the bottom is a mixture of chocolate, coconut and graham crackers, the middle layer is a custard then the top layer is made from melted chocolate -so good!!

Start on the bottom layer by melting 1/2 cup of butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in 1/4 cup of sugar and 5 tablespoons of cocoa.

Lightly beat one egg and mix the egg into the saucepan. Let the mixture begin to thicken while stirring.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and use a spatula to transfer the mixture to a medium sized mixing bowl. Mix in 1 3/4 cups of graham crackers crumbs.

I only had 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs on hand, so I made 3/4 cup of graham crackers crumbs by crushing full sized crackers. In many situations, I would not recommend this (like when you're making a graham cracker crust - I've tried! Big mess!) but it worked out really well for the nanaimo bars!
Mix in 3/4 cup of fine shredded coconut (I used unsweetened coconut). Then press the bottom layer into a 9x13'' baking dish.

I forgot to mention above that one of the things I love so much about Nanaimo bars is they don't bake in the oven! Waiting through bake time is my least favorite part of baking (really, I just hate waiting for anything!) I love that these are ready right after the top layer of chocolate hardens!
Set the bottom layer aside (you can put it in the fridge if you want) and start the custard - In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together 1/2 cup of softened cutter, 3 tablespoons of milk and 2 tablespoons of vanilla custard powder with an electric mixer.

Once the butter mixture is creamed, gradually mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is light and smooth.

Pour the custard over the top of the bottom layer. You can use a spoon to even out the custard layer, if necessary.
Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe dish. I recommend melting the chocolate for 20 seconds at a time and stirring between each session in the microwave until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Pour the chocolate over the top of the custard layer and smooth is over with a spoon. Put the nanaimo bars in the fridge and leave it to sit until the top chocolate layer is completely hardened.

Use a sharp knife to cut the nanaimo bars into squares and serve chilled. If you are not going to eat all of the nanaimo bars right away, you can store them in the freezer in an air-tight container. They freeze really well and defrost quickly! I cut my nanaimo bars into squares of 5 by 6 so I ended up with 30 Nanaimo bars. I left a few in the fridge and froze a majority of them for us to enjoy at a later date!

yield 30 Nanaimo Bars

for the bottom layer...
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 fine shredded coconut

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter, then mix in the granulated sugar and the cocoa powder.
2. Lightly beat the egg and mix in the egg until the mixture begins to thicken.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and tansfer the butter mixture to a medium sized mixing bowl.
4. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and the coconut.
6. Press the bottom layer into the bottom of a 9x13'' baking dish. Then set aside. 

for the middle layer...
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream softened butter, milk and vanilla custard powder together with an electric mixer.
2. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar and mix until the custard is light and smooth.
3. Pour the custard over the bottom layer in the baking dish and set aside. You might have to smooth the custard around with a spoon.

for the top layer...
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons butter

1. In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolate chips and butter until completely melted - I recommend putting them in the microwave for 20 second increments.
2. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the top of the custard in the baking dish and smooth over with a spoon.
3. leave the Nanaimo Bars in the Fridge to solidify completely. Cut into 30 squares and serve chilled. Store in the fridge (or the feezer) and store until you are ready to serve them!

See you tomorrow with the highly anticipated strawberry, cashew and quinoa salad recipe!

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