Nanaimo Bars

If you're looking for quintessential Canadian desserts you will find: Butter Tarts and Nanaimo Bars. Ubiquitous, sugar powerhouses, and bit sized, both are pretty tasty treats and definitely should be shared with friends! 

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Base
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (optional but completely delicious)

Middle creamy layer
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons custard or vanilla pudding powder
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top layer
4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons butter

1. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper. One sheet across the bottom and up two sides should be sufficient, no need to line all four sides. This will allow you to lift the bars out once they are set.

2. In a double boiler (you can use a metal bowl over a pot of just-boiling water if you don’t have a double boiler), combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Whisk egg in a small bowl and temper the egg by add small amount of the chocolate mixture to the egg and stirring until egg is warmed. Then add egg to chocolate mixture in double boiler over low heat and stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (highly recommended). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate while preparing the middle layer.

3. For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder until light and fluffy. If using a stand mixer, let it run for a few minutes to get the butter nice and fluffy! Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan using a spatula or the back of a spoon. Chill to set.

4. While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter in a clean double boiler (or clean metal bowl/ pot combo) until chocolate is just melted and smooth. Spread over the chilled bars, do so as quickly as you can, as it will start to melt the second layer and blend together and the goal is to have distinct layers. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

5. Cut into 1 inch squares as this is a very sweet dessert!

Keep refrigerated to maintain distinct layers and a nice texture.

Nanaimo Bar