June 30, 2017
It’s the day before Canada Day, and winding up our month-long culinary tour in BC is a clear sign we should celebrate with Nanaimo Bars, one of the most Canadian confections. Although the origins are blurry, Nanaimo bars are often credited to the Nanaimo Auxiliary Hospital Cookbook; regardless of how they evolved, they’re solidly associated with Canada, and perfect for a party (not least of all because it’s finally summer, and they don’t require you to turn on the oven).
In preparation for the Canada Day weekend, we’re loading up on Salt Spring Island Cheeses, Freybe sausage and pâtés, boxes of Raincoast Crisps everyone loves (they’re made in Vancouver!) and mixing up batches of Nanaimo Bars to pack for a picnic or take out on the patio. And a Canada 150 Berry Cake, of course.
Happy Canada Day!
Traditionally, Nanaimo bars are made with a spoonful of custard powder — it’s made by Bird’s, and can be found in the Jell-O and puddings section. Don’t worry that it doesn’t call for much — the powder keeps on the shelf indefinitely.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups graham crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp cream or milk
2 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
Bottom Layer: Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. (Or if you promise to be gentle, you can do it on the stovetop in a regular pot over low heat.) Whisk in the egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch pan.
Middle Layer: In a medium bowl, beat the butter, cream and custard powder with an electric mixer; gradually add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and spreadable, adding a little extra sugar or cream if needed to achieve a frostinglike consistency. Spread over the bottom layer.
Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer, spread evenly, and chill. Cut into squares.
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