Ucluelet, Tsawwassen, Esquimalt, Cowichan, Squamish, Sechelt, Qualicum, Haida Gwaii, Zeballos, Sointula, Nootka and Naniamo. Yes, these are actually words, even though my spell check disagrees with me (saying only two of them are spelt correctly). But, they are not just words, they are places. You probably can probably only pronounce one of them though, maybe not even that. But I'm pretty positive though that even if you can't pronounce it (or spell it), you will still recognize it. Yes, I'm talking about Nanaimo, as in the Nanaimo Bar, Nanaimo. While I'm not from Nanaimo I do live not too far from it, and from all the other places I listed as well.
But this post isn't going to be a lesson about small-town BC, no it's about a custurdy, chocolatey, goodness. The recipe that I'm sharing is my Mom's recipe. I have no idea if it's the 'actual' recipe or not. If you go to the City of Naniamo's website, they have a whole page dedicated to one of my favourite treats, but they too don't know the exact origin of it and are asking anyone to come forward that does. This recipe is very close to the recipe that they do have posted on their site. It is the recipe that was decided on by the city as 'the best' Nanaimo Bar recipe. There are several slight variations on this recipe, and then some more extreme ones.
The butterscotch flavour is one of those extreme variations that I am not a fan of. So, that is why I'm making this square now, when I used to be able to get a perfectly good tray of them for relatively cheap at the grocery store.
For most of my life, we never made Nanaimo Bar at home. The local grocery stores made a large tray of it for a good price, and Costco had it on even better. Well, just over 5 years ago, the go-to grocery store closed, and we started buying the bar at other places. For awhile it was good, then I started tasting hints of butterscotch. Well, at first everyone didn't believe me, but eventually people agreed that these other bars weren't as good. But it still wasn't worth making it ourselves because it wasn't all that bad, and the price was still good. Well, we hadn't bought it in awhile and we bought a tray about a month ago. I've never seen Nanaimo Bar hang around for long in our house and usually I devour it myself. I had half a piece and thought I had just wasted my nighty dessert allowance on something that was absolutely flavourless. It was awful, so I decided that this was too simple of a thing to make to warrant buying it's now disgusting store bought variety (unfortunately, I think this is one of the last good home made tasting things that has gone the way of over processed crap (excuse my french). Now it's just another package of Chips Ahoy or Peak Freans or Deep and Delicious Cakes in the grocery aisles.
I'm going to share the single batch version of this recipe, which is to be made in a 7"x11" pan (who has one of those right?). Anyway, I doubled it and thought I could just get away with having a thick batch in a 9"x13" pan, but as I'm realizing now, I usually double an 8"x8" to get a thick 9"x13", that explains why I had way, way too much. Sorry, just typing with my train of thought there. So, what I ended up with was 1 - 9"x9" (square silicone dish) & 1 - 8"x8" tray that were the perfect thickness, as a doubled batch. Or just go with the single and have a thick 8"x8" or scrounge up the mysterious 7"x11" pan. Whew, enough with the numbers now. So, I present to you the first Xmas baking of the season, duh duh duuuhhhh!!!!
Makes: 25 squares
1/2 C. Butter
1/4 C. Sugar
5 Tbsp. Cocoa
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tsp. Vanilla
2 C. Graham Wafer Crumbs
1 C. Coconut ( I used flaked, if you don't want the base as chunky, use medium)
1/2 C. Nuts (I used 2 Tbsp. Ground Almond Powder instead)
1/4 C. Butter
3 Tbsp. Milk
2 C. Sifted Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp. Custard Powder
2 Tsp. Vanilla
1 C. Chocolate
4 Tsp. Butter
~Melt the first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan.
~Add egg and vanilla and whisk to help prevent the eggs from forming chunks as you heat the eggs.
~Add in the last 3 items
~Spread in a greased 7"x11" pan, pack it down firmly and put in the fridge to set, while you prepare the next layer
~Combine all the ingredients in mixer bowl and beat (with paddle attachment on speed 2), until combined and fluffy (I tried to do this by hand and it felt like I was trying to mix cement by hand, so use the mixer please).
~Spread over Base Layer and place in freezer until solid (otherwise the top layer will just mix into the middle layer)
~In a microwave safe dish, melt chocolate and butter together.
~Spoon mixture over the Middle Layer and working quickly as the frozen layers will cause the chocolate to harden, smooth the chocolate.
~With a knife, run tracks through the chocolate where you'll want to cut the squares. This prevents the top layer from cracking when you cut it (or at least helps prevent it)
~When chocolate has hardened, cut into squares.