Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:
1/2 C unsalted European-style cultured butter (or regular unsalted)*
1/4 C sugar
5 T good cocoa (NOT HERSHEY’S!!!, oh dear lord please don’t use that crap)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 C graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C finely chopped almonds
1 C coconut

Melt 1st 3 ingredients in double boiler (or glass bowl over saucepan filled with water). Take off heat, let cool slightly, and incorporate egg to thicken – make sure it is hot enough to cook the egg, but not hot enough to make chocolate scrambled eggs ;). Stir in cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds. Press firmly into 8 x 8 inch pan. Chill.

Second Layer:
1/2 C (still unsalted) butter
2-3 T heavy cream
2 T vanilla custard powder (This is NOT vanilla pudding powder , this is an ingredient you have to get from a Canadian/UK import store – I use Edmond’s Brand)
2 C icing sugar
real vanilla extract to taste. I use at least another teaspoon. The custard powder I use hasn’t that strong of a vanilla flavour.

Cream butter, custard powder, and cream slightly, then slowly add in icing sugar – DO NOT OVER BEAT – but beat until light and fluffy. Spread over chilled bottom layer. Chill.

Third Layer:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (about 60-70% chocolate)
2 T (yes, still unsalted) butter

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Let sit until cool enough to not melt the custard layer, but warm enough to spread. Chill for 1 hr. min.

Eat. Share (for this has TONS of calories).

If you use an 8 x 11″ pan, do a single batch bottom later and 1 1/2 batch 2nd and 3rd layer. For 9 x 13 or 10 x 14 pan, 1 1/2 bottom layer, double 2nd and 3rd layer.

*Please, never, EVER use salted butter when baking. Salted (American) butter has got way, way too much salt in it, and often you can’t tell if the butter had turned or not, or is of good quality b/c of the amount of salt. Unsalted butter makes for much better desserts because you control the salt amount, you’re not oversalting sweet dishes, and you can taste the butter to make sure it is fresh and sweet. If cultured (European style) unsalted butter is used, it may be slightly sour – faintly reminiscent of yoghurt. This is normal. The bottom layer may need a pinch of salt, but no more, and the middle and top layers don’t as there is salt/flavour enhancer in the custard powder

When cutting, score it all and then cut it with a sharp, strong knife – I serve it in 2 cm (3/4″) squares. If you score and then cut it all at once, you get far less cracking of the chocolate layer, and therefore it looks prettier. When serving I stack it pyramidal on a round plate.

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