Simply: I have not stopped thinking about Nanaimo Bars since I made them for Thanksgiving. There are still a couple, sitting in my fridge right now, and they’re calling me. Nanaimo Bars are my siren song.
Nanaimo Bars and I have a history dating back to 2010, when the Daring Bakers (remember them?) took them on. It was right around the time Vancouver hosted the Olympics, and I learned all about this local specialty by visiting various blogs around the Internet. As the years passed, Nanaimo Bars kept popping up on my radar, but baking bars has never been my baking specialty, and baking bars with three layers seemed like entirely too much work.
And then last April I went to Vancouver, and made it my personal mission to, if nothing else, eat a Nanaimo Bar.
I was not disappointed, nor could I live in a world where this was the only Nanaimo Bar to ever cross my lips. Thus, when left in charge of providing dessert, for what Wooden Nickels referred to as “ThanksChileanGiving,” I put Nanaimo Bars on the menu. Sure, a Canadian dish isn’t the most obvious choice for an American holiday, but Vancouver holds a special place in my in-laws’ hearts. As soon as I placed these on our table, both mother and father in-law knew exactly what I had done.
I had gifted my little family-in-law with a layer of coconut and chocolate graham cracker crumbs, a layer of custard-flavored frosting, and a layer of chocolate ganache. Three layers of decadence.
I’m so glad I did it too.
These were not nearly as challenging as I had made them out to be, which happens in my baking endeavors more often than I’d care to admit.
To make 16 Nanaimo Bars, you will need:
For the graham cracker layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten (Sorry if you’re weird about raw egg. Buy organic and conquer your fear!)
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped almonds (optional, and I left them out)
1 cup coconut
For the custard layer:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
For the ganache layer:
4, 1 oz. squares semi-sweet chocolate (I used 4 oz. Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips. I am having a love affair with those chips. I like them more than Scharffenberger.)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken (I didn’t do that. Don’t tell. I melted the ingredients in a saucepan, let them cool a little, then added the beaten egg. It didn’t scramble, so I win). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts (if using). Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.