Nanaimo Bars – Recipe

nanaimobars

I’d never heard of these rich and delicious no-bake layered confections until my boyfriend mentioned he’d eaten them as a student in Canada. Originating from the City of Nanaimo, BC, the first Nanaimo Bar recipe appeared in the 1950s. There are now countless flavours and variations and even a Nanaimo Bar Trail – a self-guided city tour where one can sample everything from spring-roll and bacon-topped Nanaimo Bars to Nanaimo Bar cocktails, lattes and even pedicures. This recipe is the traditional original variety which I’ve adapted from Joy of Baking and Joyce Hardcastle. Preparation time: 45 minutes. Makes about 25 squares.

Ingredients

Bottom Layer:

113g unsalted butter, room temperature
50g granulated white sugar
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g crushed Digestive Biscuits (the original calls for Graham Cracker crumbs, which can be bought online)
65g sweetened or unsweetened coconut (desiccated or flaked)
50g walnuts coarsely chopped

Middle Layer:

113g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons custard powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
230g icing sugar

Top Layer:

120g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

Grease a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) baking tin. Alternatively, line the baking tin with foil so that the sides overhang. Use the foil handles to remove the chilled mixture before cutting.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, digestive biscuit crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about half an hour).

Middle Layer: 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 cream. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about  half an hour).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, 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 for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set.

Cutting the Bars: Place two knives into hot water and alternate them to cut the bars without cracking the chocolate topping, replacing each knife in the hot water between cuts.

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