Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nanaimo Bars

Day 1.
Kendra: Zola, I swear I'm going to get my Nanaimo Bar story for your food blog soon.
Zola: That's cool.

Day 2.
Zola opens a package from Nicole and reads note.
Nicole: Zola, I've really been enjoying Food Chains. A lot. And I read the comment about Nanaimo Bars. Surprised to realize that they probably are Canadian. So I went out to buy you the Birds Custard can with the recipe on it, you know, for the authenticity, but was horrified to discover that they have changed the packaging and now the recipe isn't on there. Which supports my position that change, in all its forms, is bad. So here is my old Birds Custard can, with recipe, plus a new can. I hope that's not too weird.

[aside: NOT weird. freaking awesome.]

Day 3.
Zola: Kendra, my friend from Canada sent the Birds Custard for the Nanaimo Bars so you better write that story or you're going to get scooped.
Kendra: I'll get it to you Friday!

Kendra: My family moved from Nanaimo, Canada to Hawaii when I was three years old and I was lucky to live there all the way through college. There are lots of amazing local dishes in Hawaii that I am very fond of and have great memories of (visits back to Hawaii now revolve around a feeding schedule of all of my favorite foods and restaurants)....but I noticed the Canadian Sugar Pie story that was posted a few months back and it made me think of my favorite Canadian dessert. Named after my birthplace, the Nanaimo Bar can be found in bakeries, in ferry boat cafeterias and kitchens around the west coast of Canada. My mom would make a tray in Hawaii and it was always a pretty unique offering at a local party - very few people had ever heard of Nanaimo, let alone had a chance to enjoy a Nanaimo Bar. The stuff is flat out delicious and I can't be left alone with a plate of them - it isn't a pretty site.

The recipe includes three layers of sweet goodness. Basically, the bottom layers is a graham cracker, butter, cocoa, coconut and nut mixture. Middle layer is powdered sugar, butter and custard and the top is a perfect layer of melted chocolate (and no matter what recipe I have used, I almost always double the top layer. More chocolate always works for me). I have seen variations in the middle layer, where people have worked in peanut butter or mint. Me? I like the classic - the original custard. Honestly, sitting here writing this, I'm wondering how fast and soon Zola will be whipping them up so that I can taste one.

Small tip for cutting the nanaimo bar....i will often score the top before it is completely set because it makes it easier to keep the chocolate from separating from the middle layer when you cut through. My aunt manages to keep the squares and cutting perfect...I mostly just manage to get everything in my mouth.

Zola: Sometimes when you're really depressed, sitting in your cave, the gods look down at you and demand that you eat large amounts of sugar, butter and chocolate. Alright. If I must.

Directions from the Bird's Custard can (which they've foolishly stopped printing so I feel doubly righteous in breaking any possible copyright laws but do feel compelled to tell you that the can informs us that Bird's Custard is a "Delicious British Tradition")
Base: Melt 2 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate (each square is one ounce) over a double boiler. Add 1/2 c. softened butter, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and one egg (pre-beat this then add to mix so you don't get any creepy cooked whites). Mix well. Add 2c. graham cracker crumbs, 1 c. angel flake coconut (the sweet stuff), and 1/2c. chopped walnuts. (I use unsalted butter so added a pinch of salt--it lets you control the salt better)
Filling: Combine 2 Tbsp custard powder with 3 Tbsp milk. Add in 1/4c. butter. (The recipe doesn't say this but I'm assuming you're supposed to do all this over a low heat). Stir in 2c. powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over base and chill.
Glaze: Melt 4 squares baker's semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tbsp butter over double boiler (I followed Kendra's advice and just threw the extra 2 squares of chocolate in there). Spread over custard layer and chill.


Kendra said...

It's Monday, 8:15am and I have just eaten 2 Nanaimo Bars at my desk - courtesy of Zola. I am a happy, happy camper. Gotta go, number 3 is waiting for me.

Guy & Zola said...

I'm still trying to upload the images--hopefully I can get them up today. Oh, and it's now 2pm and the entire tray of bars is GONE. Yes. They are that good.

Nicole said...

Hang on. Where are my Nanaimo Bars? Not only does Kendra get to grow up in flipping Hawaii instead of Nanaimo she gets Nanaimo Bar delivery? I call foul.

Ahem. Coincidentally I was speaking yesterday to a woman from Nova Scotia who informs me that they make Nanaimo Bars on the east coast as well.

Kendra said...

Total insult to injury for Nicole who provided the critical Bird's Custard and still didn't get to try them!

Guy & Zola said...

And to add FURTHER insult to injury, the images are now up so Nicole can see how delicious they looked. I promise to make it up to you!

Nicole said...

Those do look good. Bastards.

Liz Spooner said...

Thanks so much for posting the Bird's recipe here. I was also aghast to find my new can didn't have my favourite old nanaimo bar recipe on it. I am going to print and preserve the recipe now that I found it again. I am also not to be left alone with a plate of these incredible treats!!
Liz in Ottawa.

Zola said...

Yay! We are happy to be of service. Especially when Nanaimo bars are concerned! ;)

Amy F. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been searching for this recipe as I too have discovered that they stopped printing the delicious nanaimo bar recipe on the back. I lived most of my life in Bellingham, WA near Nanaimo, BC and have moved to Hawaii a year ago. No one here knows of Nanaimo or the delicious dessert named for it. I've tried using other nanaimo recipes online, but they just don't cut it. I am so glad I stumbled onto your blog. I am so grateful!

maggie said...

thankyou! i just noticed how they stopped printing the recipe on the can and that's the only one i trust!
you just made my day.