Here’s your cooking guide to the Nanaimo bar recipe!!
The Nanaimo bar is an exquisite dessert enjoyed by the people of Canada and towards the south of the borders. Named after the West Coast city of Nanaimo, located in the province of British Columbia, Nanaimo bar is a three-layered, n0-bake dessert bar. The predominant ingredients are crumbs, icing, and chocolate.
The bar cookie gained popularity in the years ensuing the Second World War and later rose to acquisition post Expo86. Nanaimo bar was announced as the finest Canadian confection in the year 2006.
Who created the Nanaimo bars?
Susan Mendelson sold the first-ever Nanaimo bars in the 1970s to support her tuition expenses, henceforth stands responsible for the marketing of the dessert bar.
Subsequently, she discovered a cafe and catering company, ‘The Lazy Gourmet’, in Vancouver in 1979, which is supposed to be the first eatery to sell the Nanaimo bars.
What do the Nanaimo bars contain?
The no-bake dessert ordinarily subsists of three layers- graham cracker crumbs and shredded coconut in the the first layer, while in the middle layer resides the custard powder with buttercream layer and on the top layer is chocolate topping.
The flavour of the dessert is akin to a sumptuously chocolaty, loaded fudge, which can be specified as a nutty-coconut chocolate loaded combination.
The Nanaimo Bars were initially sold on the British Columbia Ferries and proliferated across Canada. Presently, they are found in Costco, Starbucks and innumerable cafes in Canada and the United States.
Nanaimo bars recipe box
After the tremendous popularity gained by the Nanaimo bars, the dessert bars are identified in varied places, under differing names, in North America and Europe. Consequently, various recipes emerged in different places, although the origin of the Nanaimo bars is in Canada. Hence, the original recipe emanates from the land of its origin.
Some of you might think that owing to the popularity these bars have gained, the recipe to prepare them would be highly complex and arduous, while it is the complete opposite.
Nanaimo bars can be prepared at home, and as a matter of fact, the recipe isn’t time-consuming either. Numerous alterations have come into play with each layer. For instance, the alterations include mint, mocha, food coloring, and varied nuts to the base layer, among many others.
Even though there have been several variations from the traditional Nanaimo bar recipe, you will surely find some delicious recipes on the internet, but the classic recipe box remains undefeated. So let us acquire information about the full recipe of the classic Canadian confection.
The total time required to prepare the bars is 1 hour 10 minutes, wherein 25 minutes is the prep time, followed by the cooking time, approximately 45 minutes. The necessary ingredients for the bottom layer, middle layer, and top layer are as follows:
Ingredients for the base layer
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 tablespoon salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 2-3 tablespoons of milk
- 2 tablespoon vanilla pudding powder
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup finely chopped nuts (either walnuts or finely chopped almonds)
Ingredients for the middle layer
- 1/2 unsalted butter
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon vanilla pudding powder or 1/4 cup powdered milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Ingredients for the top layer
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Recipe Nanaimo bars
- Take an 8 by 8-inch baking aisle. Keep it aside after lining it with parchment paper and butter parchment.
- Melt the butter in a large heatproof bowl fixed over a saucepan of boiling water placed over medium-low heat for the bottom layer.
- Next, remove the melted butter from heat, and add sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt to a double boiler. Soon after, start whisking until the mixture integrates well. Whilst whisking vigorously, add egg (beaten egg) slowly poured in a thin stream. You can also add half of the chocolate mixture to the egg.
- Put the mixture back to low heat until the mixture thickens.
- Again remove from heat and add graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Keep constantly stirring until the batter is evenly coated.
- Then press the mix into a prepared pan lined with parchment paper. Let it cool while preparing the filling. The bottom layer shouldn’t be warm while adding the frosted custard layer.
- If you opt for powdered milk for the second layer, add one-fourth of powdered milk and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whip energetically so that the powdered milk dissolves. Then add butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. After that, set the mixer with a paddle attachment and beat the batter at medium speed till it becomes extremely light and fluffy.
- But if you opt for the custard powder (popular by the brand name Bird’s custard powder in the USA), cream 1/2 cup butter, custard powder and 2 tablespoons heavy cream to the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Gradually add 2 cups of icing sugar to the creamy mixture. Beat till the blend turns light and fluffy.
- Spread the mixture over the bottom layer with the help of an offset spatula, making sure the spread results in an even layer. Let the mixture cool down, preferably in a freezer, while melting chocolate (or else the warm chocolate can melt the layer).
- For the third layer, melt chocolate (preferably semi-sweet chocolate) in conjunction with butter in a heatproof bowl, place over a pot of boiling water until it turns smooth (or you can also use the microwave with intervals of 20 seconds, constantly stirring in each interval until the chocolate mixture melts and becomes unwrinkled).
- Then spread the blend into an even layer using an offset spatula (spread the chocolate mixture before the mixture of chocolate and butter begins to settle). Relax till the the chocolate settles down on the 2 layers.
- Carve into squares (for better appearance, cut the layers sideways instead of downwards). Store the bars in an airtight container in a cool place (preferably the refrigerator)
- Bring the Nanaimo bars to room temperature before serving.
Certain things to be kept in mind while preparing the Nanaimo bars.
- It is recommended to use a food processor to chop the ingredients.
- Split the graham crackers sheets in half, put them in the food processor and beat the sheets into fine crumbs. After transferring them into a bowl, if you wish to crumble them by hand, put the graham crackers in a huge airtight bag (resealable) and squash them using a rolling pin.
- Finely chop the almonds/nuts and transfer them to the bowl with graham cracker crumbs. Almonds and nuts can also be chopped finely using a rolling pin.
- With the aid of the food processor, coconut can also be chopped to half of its original size, although this remains optional.
- Chocolate and butter can be added to all three layers of the Nanaimo bars.
- Cream butter can also be added to the middle layer.
- Do not forget to freeze each layer before adding the other layer on top of it, this aids in preventing the amalgamation of the chocolate with the icing layer.
Hence, the recipe mentioned above is a great, traditional recipe for Nanaimo bars.
While trying out the recipe for Nanaimo bars, it is not necessary to comply with the same constituents mentioned in the checklist. There is scope for some variations if there is non-availability of the mentioned ingredients.
For instance, Chocolate chips can be a good substitute for semi-sweet chocolate. If you cannot find custard powder, vanilla pudding mix can be a possible choice.
Further, if custard powder is not available, corn starch can fill in its place since custard powder differs from the latter in flavoring, coloring, and salt, although the texture, taste, and look remain the same.
Brown Sugar works just fine in place of granulated sugar. Some people prefer bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate. Therefore there is no harm in using either as long as you savor the aftertaste.
Now, the ones residing in the States finding custard powder, though it is available in a few grocery stores by the name of Bird’s Custard Powder and can also be surfed online; nevertheless, if finding it upsurges your complications, either vanilla pudding mix or instant vanilla pudding can be a stand-in for the same.
Now let’s get an insight into a few ingredients used in Nanaimo bars:
# Graham cracker crumbs
Graham cracker crumbs are produced by crumbling graham crackers (basically prepared from graham flour), a sort of flat cookie, also crispy, and is honey acts as the sweetening agent.
This is put in the bottom layer of the Nanaimo bar and is regarded as the special form of whole wheat, constituting the three parts of wheat berry: the germ, the endosperm, and the bran.
There is no such thing as graham crackers in countries such as the UK and Australia. Instead, you will find digestive biscuits as the closest thing to graham cracker crumbs in the UK, while according to the thesaurus, they are labeled as wheatmeal biscuits in Australia.
# Custard powder
A combo of milk, sugar, and egg yolk is usually used topping on plenty of desserts and fills in as a delicious base for many delectable recipes. Custard powder emerged as a windfall for people who needed replacements for eggs.
Its appearance is similar to that of cornflour, and there are a number of alternatives to custard powder, such as dry pudding mix, tapioca powder and water chestnut flour.
# Cocoa powder
Chocolate powder and cocoa powder, for the most part, are considered similar even though they are distinct from one another. Cocoa powder is the purest and most legitimate variety of chocolate, excluding any other ingredients, whereas chocolate powder is extracted from cocoa and other ingredients. Unsweetened cocoa powder is the most convenient substitute for cocoa powder.
Variations in the Nanaimo bars
Myriads of variations can be made and have been made to the original, great recipe of the Nanaimo bars, which have their origin in the city of Nanaimo.
These variations result from the popularity and the experimentation of people to fit in their favourite ingredients to the classic recipe and then caption it amongst their favourite recipes.
While in most recipes, the bottom layer remains similar to the initial one wherein graham cracker crumbs, coconut, instant vanilla pudding, powdered sugar/ granulated sugar, butter, cream, and chocolate are placed.
However, one disparity made in the mentioned layer is that of the removal of an egg. Moreover, in the UK, due to the non-availability of graham cracker crumbs, digestive biscuits are used as an additive in the bottom layer.
Here are a few variances that you can try while cooking the no-bake Canadian confection. Nanaimo bars have come up with numerous filling alterations. The procedure of blending the ingredients remains the same despite the modifications.
- PEANUT BUTTER FILLING- 2 tablespoons custard powder, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, 2 cups powdered sugar.
- MINT FILLING- 1/3 cup butter, 3 tablespoon custard powder, Bird’s brand or instant vanilla pudding mix, 1/4 cup milk, 3 cups icing sugar, 1 tablespoon peppermint flavouring, 1-2 drops green food colouring as per choice.
- CAPPUCCINO FILLING- 2 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder, 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract, 2 cups powdered sugar.
- GRAND MARNIER FILLING- 2 cups icing sugar, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or orange liqueur, 1 tablespoon orange rind; coarsely grated.
- BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM FILLING- 1/3 cup butter, 3 tablespoons vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of Bailey’s Irish cream, 2-3 cups sugar (icing).
- CHERRY FILLING- 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 tablespoon cherry juice, 2 cups sugar (icing), 1/3 Maraschino cherries, 1-2 drops of red colouring.
Other conversions can be using the vanilla extract in the top layer if that suits your taste. You can also melt the chocolate into the middle layer and the other fillings and then freeze the second layer. In the top layer, melting chocolate can be poured to make the nutty dessert more chocolaty and nuttier by adding more nuts as the topping.
Nanaimo bars are an easy-to-make dessert and spare us the baking process, and the recipes can be altered as per the taste of the cook.
The popular Canadian Nanaimo bars are precious to the country’s culture and have gained tremendous popularity across the country and outside the country’s boundaries.
Considered an easy-to-make and delicious dessert, it is served on almost all occasions in Canada. Not to miss the uncomplicated and straightforward recipe of the Nanaimo bars; they stand out as the most adored dessert.
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