Ah, my dear American friends, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. I constantly mention Nanaimo bars in my posts and tweets and it seems I stump a lot of people. Here is the delicious scoop on my favourite treat.
Top layer: Chocolate
Middle layer: Icing
Bottom layer: Crumb, coconut
The trick is getting the right consistency of the top two layers. The icing needs to be thick enough so it doesn’t goop out and the chocolate layer needs to be soft enough so you can actually bite through it without breaking. (Unless of course this is what you’re intending to do!)
Some people flavour the icing with mint or raspberry or mocha or the chocolate with caramel but that’s just a bastardization of perfection.
Nanaimo Bar Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird’s) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Butter or spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with a non stick vegetable spray.
Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).
Middle Layer: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.
To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.
Makes about 25 squares