With the Vancouver Winter Olympics in full swing, I can't help thinking about Nanaimo Bars, one of my favorite "Canadian" chocolate treats. Bill Critchfield, one of the members of my mystery bookgroup, used to make them on special occasions. Bill passed on, and unfortunately his safely guarded recipe passed on with him. Since then, I've tried to create his version of Nanaimo Bars (there are so many variations). This has involved trying different recipes and really exploring the whole Canadian Nanaimo history. Months of Edible Celebrations had a special post devoted to Nanaimo Bars in conjunction with Pecans last year. Interesting that the recipe for Nanaimo Bars in The Pecan Cookbook also calls for baking. I don't think Bill used pecans, and I'm sure he didn't bake.
The City of Nanaimo website says: "According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. In a burst of civic pride, she chose to dub the entry not "Daphne's Delights" or "Mary's Munchies", but "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Some American tourists claim sovereignty over the dessert, referred to as "New York Slice" which is sold in many other places in the world. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs."
Here's a recipe that will take first place at the Nanaimo Olympics from the Official City of Nanaimo Website:
Nanaimo Bar Recipe
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (I use Bird's)
2 cups icing sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
The really nice thing about this 'refrigerator bar' is that you can adapt it in so many ways by adding different ingredients or substituting different nuts. Very fun! and always good! Perfect to eat while watching the Olympics.
Links to other Nanaimo Bar Recipes:
My Baking Addiction (Valentine's Day Nanaimo Bars)
Playing House (Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars)
I don't like coconut, but I still love Nanaimo bars. Bill's were the best.
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