Enter Exhibit A: The Nanaimo Bar.
The elusive no-bake confection that appears almost universally on dessert trays around the community. Known by it’s distinct brown and yellow striping, it’s easily spotted among the assorted brownies, wafers and marshmallow squares.
That is, until you go to choose your dessert selection, where they appear to have done a vanishing act. Nary a square to be seen among the other treats. The outlook is even worse for those who go for a second helping of the lunch fare. Only crumbs remain beside the date squares and store bought chocolate chip cookies.
For those clever enough to have raided the dessert table before sitting down to your triangle of tuna salad, beware. Guard your nanaimo bar well. One wayward glance or untimely trip to refill your styrofoam cup, and yours too will have disappeared as swiftly as the others, leaving only an errant crumb and a subtle smudge of yellow icing. Trust no one in protection of this rare treat, even those closest to you, as few can resist it’s seductive allure.
And if you, the host, have pre-emptively reserved a few to indulge in later, hide them well in the depths of your refrigerator, as no place is safe from the threat of Nanaimo bar kidnapping.
makes on 8×8 pan, adapted from Mom’s old photocopy, yellowed from age, with a grocery list on the back and no directions.
For the base:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tbsp custard powder ( like Birds) or instant vanilla pudding powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp milk
For the top
- 3 oz semi sweet chocolate ( or a scant 1/4 cup of chocolate chips if you prefer)
- 1 tsp butter
- Make the base: Line an 8×8 square pan wit wax or parchment paper, making sure to let some hang over the edge. In a large stainless steel or heat proof glass bowl ( or in the top of a double boiler), combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and egg. Set over some barely simmering water, stirring constantly until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick – about 2 or 3 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Pour the chocolate mixture over top and mix well. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan, and set into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.
- Make the filling: In another bowl, cream together the butter and the custard powder. Gradually add the icing sugar, adding milk as needed until it’s smooth and spreadable. Spread over the bottom layer and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes or until firm.
- Make the topping: In a small saucepan melt together the butter and the chocolate, stirring until completely melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture evenly over the filling, spreading gently with an offset spatula to fill in any gaps or corners. Chill until the chocolate is set but not hard, lift out of the pan and slice into squares. If the chocolate hardens too much, then just let it sit for a few minutes on the counter until it softened then slice. Store any leftovers (well hidden) in the fridge.