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BellaOnline's American Regional Cuisine Editor

Recipe for Nanaimo Bars

One of my favorite treats when we drive up north through Oregon and into Canada is to stop and get a Nanaimo Bar. It is a fabulous, triple layer no-bake cookie that has become famous and has made the town of Nanaimo famous. They are totally delicious with a crumb base and a middle layer that is light custard and then the final layer is a smooth and layer of glossy chocolate.

The custard powder in the recipe is not readily available in the states, but is available online or through some specialty food catalogs. A good substitution can be to use an equivalent amount of instant vanilla pudding.

The shiny, semisweet chocolate needs to be a very good quality because it is one of the prevailing flavors. Choose one that has a shiny finish as that will let you know that it was cooked at the right temperature. Once you have melted the chocolate and poured it over the buttercream/custard layer you will need to let it be till it sets up firm. This is difficult to do because you just want to get eating it! To make nice clear cuts use a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and then wiped dry.

Ingredients by layer:

Top Layer
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Middle Layer
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 - 3 tablespoons milk
• 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or vanilla pudding powder
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups powdered sugar

Bottom Layer
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 1 large egg, slightly beaten
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 1 cup coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
• 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions: Butter or spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with a non stick vegetable spray. .

Bottom Layer:

1. Use a small saucepan, over low heat, and melt the butter.
2. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg.
3. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes).
4. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl with the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts.
5. Mix well.
6. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. (I spread it out with a fork, then smush it down with my finger tips.
7. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer:
1. Use a hand mixer and beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth.
3. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk.
4. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer:
1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter.
2. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares

It is well worth the drive to go to Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada for one of these bars, but if you can’t make the trip try to make your own and then just close your eyes as you savor the flavor and imagine the experience.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Launa Stout. All rights reserved.
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