Recipe: Nanaimo bars

After making butter tarts, I was inspired to make more “Canadian” desserts. I think I have an advantage in the baking department as my family has a long history of being good bakers, in particular with sweets. One of my sets of maternal great grandparents owned a bakery, and my maternal grandfather worked in an industrial bakery, making wafer cookies. My mom tells us stories about how my grandfather would bring home huge sheets of wafer cookies, to try cutting into various shapes on his jigsaw to see which he liked best. My mom, while not a baking professional, makes amazing sweets. So I guess it is natural that I have a knack for baking.

Nanaimo Bars!

This recipe in particular was adapted from a recipe found over at the joyofbaking.  It most closely resembled the recipe my mom uses.

Crust Layer:

1/2 cup (113 grams) butter
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (65 grams) coconut
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts (chopped)

Custard Layer:

1/4 cup (56 grams) butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla custard powder (Bird’s)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla =
2 cups (230 grams) icing sugar

Chocolate Layer:

4 ounces (120 grams) chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter

1. Prep: Get a square “brownie pan” (8’x8’ or 9’x9’)ready by greasing or lining with parchment. I used a silicone pan, so I didn’t do any prep.  Gather all the other ingredients.
2. Make the crust layer: Melt the butter over low heat. Take off the heat and mix in the sugar and cocoa. Mix in the egg, then put back on the heat and cook for about a minute, until the mixture starts to thicken. Take off the heat again, mix in the crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Press into the pan, cover and refrigerate until firm.
3. Make the custard layer: in a bowl, cream the butter. Add in all the other ingredients and beat until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit more milk. Spread on top of the crust, recover and refrigerate.
4. Make the chocolate layer: melt chocolate and butter over low heat, mixing from time to time. When smooth, spread over custard layer. Cover, and refrigerate until firm. I found that this amount of chocolate produced a very thin layer of chocolate, making cutting into squares easy even once the chocolate firmed up. If you end up with a thick layer of chocolate, after refrigerating for a few minutes take the squares back out of the fridge and score the chocolate layer, it will make cutting a lot easier later.

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