Back when I was a teenager, I remember visiting a friend’s home around Christmas time and trying a Nanaimo Bar for the first time. It was so good! I asked my friend’s mum for the recipe and took it home with me.
I could not stop talking about how good the bars were, so my mother and I set about to make some for our family. We went shopping in the morning to get all the ingredients, then started to work in the afternoon so we could have them for dessert that evening.
First layer: no trouble. Mixed together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Added the custard-like mixture and combined everything together. Pressed that into the pan and left it to cool while we made the second layer.
Second layer: we ran into trouble. While I was measuring out the icing sugar, milk and butter and getting that all ready in a bowl, my mother was making custard. The layer didn’t set the same way as the one I’d had at my friend’s house had but we didn’t let that stop us and continued making the bars. We figured if we left the pan in the refrigerator for a while, the layer would set.
Third layer: compounded trouble. It was impossible to pour the slightly warm chocolate on top of the middle layer and be able to spread it over the second layer as the recipe instructed. I called my friend to try and figure out where we’d gone wrong.
The mistake? The recipe I’d scored was missing one very important word… powder. Not knowing any better, we figured we had to make custard, then add two tablespoons of it to the middle layer. As tasty as it was (and you know we ate it anyway, though it was sloppy), it is much better to make Nanaimo Bars with custard powder. Ever since we figured out the problem, Nanaimo Bars have become a staple of the Christmas goodie selection in my family.
Here’s the step-by-step:
Get started on the first layer.
Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and pecans.
Cook the butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg.
Add the chocolatey mixture to the crumbs, coconut and nuts.
Press into a 9 x 9″ pan and the first layer is complete.
Now, the second layer.
Make sure you have custard powder.
And softened butter.
Add the icing sugar.
Then add the milk.
Combine to make the second layer.
Spread on the first layer and refrigerate.
Find that you don’t have 4 squares of chocolate? Measure the correct weight in chips instead.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
Spread the chocolate over the second layer.
You can find the recipe (all the ingredients and everything) here:
Queen of the Nanaimo Bars
Makes 9 to 12 bars
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Place the softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg in a bowl. Set over boiling water and stir until the butter melts and the mixture resembles custard. In a separate bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts, blending well. Add to the custard-like mixture. Press evenly into a greased 9-inch pan. Cool to set.
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Mix the butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar thoroughly and spread over the cooled bottom layer.
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. butter
Melt the chocolate with the butter. When it is cool but still liquid, pour and spread over the middle layer.
Chill the Nanaimo Bars in the refrigerator.