Nanaimo bars and recipe – All hail Canada


It may be syttende mai (Norway’s national day), but today my mind is on Canada. Canada will always hold a special place in my heart, and sometimes I fantasize about moving to British Columbia (the best part of Canada, even if all of it is beautiful). I have been to much of the vast Canadian country – and Canada is, coast to coast (and everywhere in between) filled with gorgeous landscapes and the most sincerely friendly people on the planet. There are wonderfully friendly people everywhere, but no one tops Canadians. (And as much as I loved Québec, Montréal and the weird brand of French they speak there, I have to say that they could use a few lessons in Canadian friendly. But then, maybe not. They want to be their own thing, so let them.)

All of this is a very roundabout way to say that the non-baked treat (one of the few non-baked sweets I do), Nanaimo bars, were a huge hit with my whole new audience. I sort of expected them to be much too sweet for the (majority) Swedes with whom I work – but the raves I heard about these bars solidified their popularity. (I knew Americans, Canadians, Aussies and Brits liked them – have made taste testers of all these English-speaking folks, but I was not sure about Swedish people.) I need not have worried.

Nanaimo Bars – Recipe

Crust/Bottom layer
½ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablesoons unsweetened cocoa
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cups graham cracker (or digestive biscuit) crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Mix butter, sugar and cocoa together in double boiler or pan – melt. Add beaten egg and stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Middle layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and powdered sugar together very well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer. (I had to order custard powder from the UK because it is not something one finds in Sweden.)

The Top
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. When cool but liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator. This layer is a bit tricky, I have found. Once the chocolate hardens in the fridge, and I try to cut the sheet of bars into individual bars, the chocolate tends to disconnect from the middle layer and break up/crack. This is not ideal. I have tried different knives, the “knife in hot water” trick and have let the bars sit out for a few minutes to get a bit closer to room temperature first – these tricks do help to some extent. Cutting these into bars, though, is never going to be a completely clean affair.

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