Last year my husband and I went to Canada for the first time. We spent a week in Toronto and I absolutely fell in love with the place. The food…the people….the food…you get the picture I’m sure? I won’t wax lyrical about it (if you want that you can read all about my Canuck adventures here). The food is something I definitely never run out of things to say about. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried poutine, and then there’s Nova Scotia Lobster! But the point of this post is to share my love of yet another Canadian foodstuff (albeit not a native of the East Coast) – the Nanaimo Bar. Yes, I’ll admit it does sound like a character from a Disney movie but believe me it’s worth getting used to the name.
It’s basically a layered fridge cake made up of a crumb base layer, a buttercream-style middle layer (traditionally custard flavoured), then topped with a chocolate layer. Yes- they are a rich as they sound. Trust me, no matter how much your eyes tell you, one will be enough (okay- maybe two!) Originating in the district of Nanaimo, British Columbia it’s so popular that it’s been declared a national treasure. And like all good national treasures there are many recipes and many takes on how to make the bars- and they’re all the “proper” way. This is however is my way and how I like them best.
(As a note I prefer them kept in the fridge once they’re made as keeping them at room temperature causes the buttercream and chocolate layers to soften too much)
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut
For the filling:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
For the topping:
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
– Lined 9″ x 9″ tray (1 ½ inch high) or silicone baking tray
To make the base:
- Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a small pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat.
- In a separate bowl combine the crumbs, coconut and walnut pieces.
- Add the beaten egg to chocolate mixture and mix well to combine and thicken. The mixture may appear to separate but continue whisking vigorously and it’ll come back together to a shiny, thick consistency. Pour chocolate mixture over the crumb mixture and mix well to combine.
- Press mixture into the lined tin and level the surface. Chill for 30mins to 1 hour.
To make the filling:
- Add the butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together in a stand mixer.
- Cream well at a high-speed until fluffy and smooth
- Spread this over the biscuit base and chill for at least 3 hours until set firm.
To make the topping:
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Allow to cool for a few mins then spread it over the filling.
- Return to the fridge and leave until set (at least 1 hour).
- Cut in to bars and serve.
They look delicious.
They remind me a bit off millionaire’s shortbread which has a caramel layer.