Monday, May 31, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

The Nanaimo bar came about when a housewife in Nanaimo, a city on the Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada entered a recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest some 35 years ago and won. It is a three-layer bar that requires no baking and is delicious! It consists of a chocolate crumb base, followed by a layer of custard flavoured buttercream and is topped with a glossy layer of chocolate which provides a slight crunch with you bite into the bar.

There are many different recipes for Nanaimo bars. The City of Nanaimo even provides an official recipe.


Bottom Layer
½ cup (115g) unsalted butter
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (30g) cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs (I used 13 digestive biscuits)
1 cup (65g) desiccated coconut
½ cup (50g) walnuts, coarsely chopped (you can also use pecans or almonds)

The recipe calls for graham crackers but we don’t have these in Australia, digestive biscuits are an appropriate substitute. I have never had digestive biscuits before but they are quite nice. They are a wholemeal biscuit which have a little sweetness.

Note: as it says on the box “The ingredients in this biscuit do not contain any substance that assist in digestion”

Middle Layer
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream (I used cream)
2 tablespoon custard powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (230g) icing sugar, sifted

Custard powder was the invention of an Englishman named Alfred Bird. He invented this powder because his wife loved homemade custard but was allergic to eggs. You can buy the ‘original’ Bird’s custard powder from specialty food stores - The Best of British at Floreat Forum.

Top Layer
150g, dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

When I went to the supermarket to buy some chocolate I found out that by beloved Lindt now produces cooking chocolate! 


Line a 23cm by 23cm pan with greaseproof paper.

Bottom Layer

Combine the biscuit crumbs, coconut and nuts in a large bowl. (I reduced the biscuits to crumbs by putting them in a plastic bag and using my hands to crush them)

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder. Then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the dry mixture and thoroughly combine. 

Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).

Middle Layer

Beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add in the custard powder, cream, vanilla extract and icing sugar. Beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Spread over the bottom layer, cover and refrigerate until firm (30-60 minutes).

Top Layer

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Cool the chocolate until barely warm/room temperature but still liquid and then spread evenly over middle/custard later. Chill in the fridge until the chocolate is set (30-60 minutes). You have to allow the chocolate to cool, otherwise it will melt into the custard layer and mix in with it. 

After it has set, slice it into little squares. 

To prevent the chocolate from cracking when slicing, dip a sharp knife in a glass of hot water for a few seconds and then wipe clean between cuts.

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