Bake Club: Nanaimo Bars

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Nanaimo Bar from the Nanaimo Trail BC.

My 50th birthday took me to Vancouver Island with Tofino as the ultimate destination. I had been reading about the Nanaimo Trail and thought Nanaimo might be a great place to stop for lunch. It was. We had great soup and a Nanaimo bar for dessert, because when in Nanaimo… well, you know how the story goes. EAT THE NANAIMO BAR. I really liked it. I never thought Costco made a good one, nor have I liked the ‘variations’ to the classic bar. I never had family who made it and it wasn’t a staple growing up. The hubs loves nanaimo bars. He raved about the one we had on the trail. This year I thought I would do him a solid and make some amongst the Christmas baking.

I did some research and found everyone had their own version. Some used pudding powder, some didn’t, other’s had mint (WTF?) other’s had oats. NONE OF THESE ARE CORRECT! I went to the City of Nanaimo’s page for the Canadian classic treat because I figured this would be the authentic version. I was correct. It had custard powder and almonds. I downloaded this recipe and was preparde for a LOT OF WORK, because that is what people told me….ohhhhhh they are sooooo much work.

Liars. All of you.

These bars were easy and probably the best tasting bars ever. I mean EVER. Look for the recipe here. You are welcome.

When you try this recipe follow all the ingredients as written out. Don’t substitute things and then tell me it was crap. It is not the recipe, it is the recipe follower. There, I said it.

I did make a mistake though – I forgot to add the coconut. You could tell. It was still really good but the bottom wasn’t as thick. I am making new ones and I will not forget the coconut this time.

I made the crust first. I chopped blanched almonds for days. I want a small food processor. The upside is my knife skills are getting pretty darn great. I used parchment with an overhang to pull the squares out in a quick and painless fashion. I recommend that step. Add consider chilling the crust while you make the filling. I think it makes for better definition of the layers.

The filling is basically vanilla custard frosting. It is delicious! I am a Doctor Who fan so I had Birds custard powder for fish fingers and custard party. Sometimes we have custard for desert. It is not the same a Jello vanilla pudding and do not bother telling me it is. Because it’s not. So don’t use that.

Bird's Custard Powder - Original - 340g | London Drugs

You only need two tablespoons of the powder – this is the secret ingredient. Do not skip it and use your stand mixer or hand beaters to get the filling fluffy. I poured this on top of the chilled bottom crust and popped it back into the fridge while I melted the chocolate.

This is where you can elevate the squares. It calls for baking squares of chocolate. Um, no. Have you tasted that stuff? that isn’t chocolate, it is wax flavored baking topping. Ew.

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Chop your best chocolate and add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt them together over a double boiler – it won’t burn this way. The microwave will burn your chocolate. If you use terrible chocolate, use the microwave. It doesn’t matter any more…

I tempered the chocolate to get a nice snap – but you don’t have to. It works just fine without. Plus temper gives it a nice gloss.

I cut them into 16 squares because the hubs would have two otherwise. But you could easily get 32 rectangles of the perfect size.

These took maybe 30 minutes to make from start to finish. I am making one more batch this weekend for the freezer and don’t tell the hubs because I need these to last for gifts.

If you try this Canadian classic tell me how it went!

Stay healthy friends!

One thought on “Bake Club: Nanaimo Bars

  1. The recipe on the City of Nanaimo website is really close to the recipe I’ve been making for almost 50 years. My recipe has 1 tsp vanilla in the base layer and walnuts instead of almonds (walnuts were probably more readily available and cheap back then…); milk instead of cream in the second layer; half as much butter with the semi-sweet chocolate for the top layer.
    I’ve also used a similar recipe (bit different proportions) at Easter to make Easter eggs. You use the base layer but form it into egg shapes. Then you use the middle layer to coat the top and sides of the eggs. Then you cover them with the chocolate and decorate with icing flowers when the chocolate cools.
    When we lived in the Middle East, I had to host a Canadian ethnic lunch. I don’t remember what I served, but I made Nanaimo bars for desert. Had to do substitutions for the chocolate squares, custard powder and graham crackers…

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