I'd never heard of Nanaimo Bars (named after a city in British Columbia) let alone tasted one, but just reading through the recipe in my Kitchen Trotter box, I knew they'd be good. They're a bit like a cheesecake that you can eat with your fingers and the whole family loved them. There are numerous variations apparently - they always have three layers but you can experiment with different flavours (mint, peanut butter, coffee or lemon icing in the middle layer) or textures (different types of crumb).
base layer :
110g butter or margarine
25ml maple syrup
30g cocoa powder
200g digestive biscuits, crushed
30g dessicated coconut
50g chopped walnuts
middle layer (icing) :
320g icing sugar
30g custard powder
top layer :
First, start off the child labour (!) : put the biscuits in a big freezer bag and let them use a rolling pin to crush them. Put the crumbs in a big bowl and mix in the coconut and walnuts.
Melt the butter on a very low heat (so it doesn't scramble the egg !) then add the sugar, maple syrup and egg and stir vigorously with a spatula to create a thick, smooth syrup. Add the cocoa powder and mix again. Pour into the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Pour this base layer into a greased square tin. (I used one with a removable bottom which made it much easier to get them out at the end. You could use foil or baking parchment to line it otherwise.) Pop it in the oven at 200° for 5 minutes while you sort out the next bit.
On to the second layer, which uses custard powder. I decided to try out my Spanish Crema Pastelera which worked really well.
Melt the butter. Whisk together the icing sugar, custard powder, butter and milk (I used Provamel rice almond milk but regular milk is fine) until it becomes thick and creamy. Add a bit extra custard powder and/or icing sugar if it's not firm enough.
Smooth the custard filling over the base layer and put it in the fridge for an hour.
The final layer is simply a case of melting together the chocolate and butter and spreading it over the custard filling. Put it back in the fridge for 1/2 hour to set. It would be a good idea to score the chocolate at this stage - I didn't and it was very hard to cut the bars without making the custard filling splurge out !
Hmm look at that ! You can clearly see the three layers. (The black layer at the bottom is the base of my tin, not part of the cake.)
Cut into bars/squares and keep them in the fridge until you're ready to devour them !
They are utterly delicious - very sweet but not sickly and the different textures and flavours work really well together. They're great for the kids to nibble with their fingers as a snack but they could also be dressed up (maybe made in individual ramekins) as a special dessert too.
*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***