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Nanaimo Bars
When you are representing Canada at your own birthday party, you have to keep it real. First, you make semi-homemade poutine. Then, you make Nanaimo Bars for dessert. These things, combined with copious amounts of Kokanee, Crown, and Canadian Tuxedos…pretty much make for an unforgettable night.
Nanaimo Bars
I have been wanting to make Nanaimo bars ever since we took a weekend trip to Vancouver BC…with our cell phones out of range, we were constantly getting lost on the Canadian roads. On the way home, trying to follow road signs and still managing to get hopelessly lost, we went under a sign that read “Nanaimo” and I tried saying it…”Na-naimo? naaaa…naymo?” I am famous for pronouncing things wrong, particularly unknown towns and cities (Fife, Kittitas, and Tenino are just a few of the classics). At this point in our trip we pretty much lost it over Nanaimo and couldn’t stop laughing.

So, we had to make this little inside joke of ours a reality and see if the famous dessert from the city of Nanaimo was worth those lost miles. These layered little babies are no bake and totally easy and tasty to boot. It can be hard to find custard powder at the store, although I saw some at World Market the other day. However, if you are willing to use part of a box of vanilla instant pudding that works great. I love the bottom layer, the combination of graham cracker, coconut, chocolate and almond is perfect.
Nanaimo Bars
Nanaimo Bars
makes 1 8X8 inch pan, about 2 dozen squares
adapted from All Recipes
For the Base Layer:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (at least one sleeve of regular graham crackers)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
For the Middle Custard Layer:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons custard powder
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the top Layer:
  • 1 (12 oz) bar semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  1. In the top of a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8×8 inch pan. Chill pan in the refrigerator while you are making the middle layer.
  2. For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder (or vanilla instant pudding) until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
  3. While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Nanaimo Bars