While growing up every year my Mom had her staples she baked at Christmas. She would put them in a big Tupperware containers and freeze them in our big deep freezer in the basement. Well I knew where the goods were and my brother and I would often sneak some.
What was a big problem with this idea is that our freezer would creak really loudly and sure enough Mom would hear and yell from upstairs "You better not be into the treats". We would shove them in our mouths as fast as we could, but remember they were frozen solid so it took a long time to try and hide the evidence. By the time she got downstairs to catch us, we still weren't done consuming them. Inevitably we would be caught, threatened and told not to touch them. Which lets be honest we didn't listen and just tried to be sneakier.
One of the things my Mom made were Nanaimo bars, these are very Canadian and are a classic here. They originated in Nanaimo British Columbia, hence being named the Nanaimo bar. Nanaimo is a city on Vancouver Island, it's known as the Harbour City, it is central Vancouver Island. The first European settlers settled there in the late 1700's. I personally have been there many times, being from Kelowna we had family on Vancouver Island and friends.
What's cool about the Nanaimo bar is that there are many different takes on it, it is something that has spread across Canada as ours and everyone has a spin on it. There are so many things flavoured as a Nanaimo bar: doughnuts, Ice cream, deep friend Nanaimo bars, cheesecakes, fudge, latte's, hot chocolates. You name it, there will probably be a version of it.
The first recipe for the Nanaimo bar showed up in a cookbook back in 1952, and has just grown in the hearts of Canadians everywhere! While living in the United States that is one treat I missed a lot.
Now the key to make it really taste well is to get the Bird's custard powder, don't use vanilla pudding as a backup, use the real stuff. Also I like the center the most so I doubled it so it was thicker.
1/2 cup of butter
1/4 cup of white sugar
5 Tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 cups of chocolate graham cracker crumbs, or regular graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of finely chopped almonds
1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of heavy cream
2 Tablespoons of vanilla custard powder
2 cups of icing sugar
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, or dark chocolate
2 Tablespoons of butter
For the bottom layer melt the first three ingredients in the microwave at 30 second intervals or until melted. Add egg and stir in the hot mixture to allow to cook and thicken. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press into a parchment lined 9 by 13 inch pan. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
For the second layer, cream all the ingredients together. Beat until light and fluffy. Spread on top of the bottom layer, smooth out the top. Place back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
For the top layer, place chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals. When butter is totally melted remove from the microwave and stir till the chocolate is completely melted and shiny looking. Allow to cool, but is still liquid. Pour on top of the second layer and smooth it out. Cool in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour before slicing and serving.
What I love about these is you can freeze them, and pop them out an hour before wanting to eat them or bring them to a party and they taste amazing still. So go on, run and get the ingredients, try and make them and then see how amazing these Canadian delicasies are!
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