19 June 2009

Recipe: Canada's Famous Nanaimo Bars

From Denny: Have you been over to the Canadian food site Joy of Baking yet? Even though the summer weather has set in with 98 degree F. days, their recipes are enough to coax me into turning on the oven even in this heat - though with this recipe it won't be required!

This is a summer-friendly recipe as it is a no-bake one. Definitely a must-try recipe AND easy - perfect for the weekend!

Here is an excerpt from their site about this cookie bar:

"Nanaimo Bars (or N.B.s for short) are one of Canada's favorite confections. The beautiful City of Nanaimo, British Columbia lays claim to these squares, telling us on their website that it all began when a Nanaimo housewife entered a recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest some 35 years ago.

She called her recipe 'Nanaimo Bars' and when she won the contest, not only did her dessert become popular throughout Canada, so did the town they were named after. Whether this story is true or not, we will never know, but what we do know is that these no-bake bars are delicious; a three layered square with a crumb base, followed by a layer of light custard buttercream, that is topped with a smooth layer of chocolate."

Their recipes are given in both American and metric measurements. For the continuation of their tips, history and suggestions about this recipe - worth the read - just click on the title link.

Nanaimo Bars


Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa (I use Dutch-processed)

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs

1 cup (65 grams) coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)

1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped


1/4 cup (56 grams) 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 (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar


4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter


Nanaimo Bars: Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.

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 into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

FILLING: In your electric mixer cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. 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 over the filling and refrigerate.

TO SERVE: To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares

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