elebrating the close of the Olympics at work (and in Canada too, I suppose), we had a Canadian-themed lunch yesterday. Figuring out what to make for lunch took a little figuring, given the multicultural breadth of the country. Would Asian-fusion work best? Or Eastern European (my love for all things pierogi is well documented)? Maybe a little Indian food? Well, after a rousing discussion with my very Canadian parents over the holidays (yes, I do occasionally think about food months in advance. Not that there's anything wrong with that.), we decided that a straightforward burgers and fries lunch (fries a la poutine, post to come tomorrow) with all the fixings, followed by Nanaimo bars, would suffice. I added in a few other dessert options--maple leaf sugar cookies, maple cream sandwich cookies (from Costco, thanks husband!) and "Timbits" from a local bakery, and we were good to go.
Amazingly, I've never made Nanaimo bars before. I've never even been in the room when Nanaimo bars were being made. That's not very raised-in-Canada of me, is it? But I conned the recipe from my Canadian friend, Ginger, and was immediately struck by how simple it really is. The whole thing came together quite quickly, and I made WAY too many. With this dessert, a little goes a long way. These are rich babies. But yummy rich babies.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp. cocoa
1 beaten egg
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter
3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cup icing powder
2/3 cup or 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. butter
Bottom layer: Melt first three ingredients. Add beaten egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 9x9 pan.
Middle layer: Cream ingredients together. Beat until light and spread. (Quick tip: Chill the pan now. Get the buttery layer good and frozen-ish before you spread the chocolate topping. That way it will not melt. And move quickly. That helps too.)
Top layer: Melt chocolate and butter. Cool and spread.
Chill and use sharp knife to cut into squares.
Of course I forgot to take a picture at home, so this is a quickly snapped iPhone shot at the lunch itself. You can see the remnants of the Timbits and sugar cookies scattered around. Those doughnut holes were my downfall yesterday... but in all the best ways.
The theory is that the buttery center can be customized and flavored... mint, coffee, peanut butter... Next time I make Nanaimo bars, I won't be able to help myself but to experiment... and the flavor I think I want to fiddle around with is peanut butter... just a thought. A happy thought. If you could pick any flavor of Nanaimo bars, which would you pick?