Christmas baking is in full swing at my house. So far we’ve made a couple Cranberry Orange Loaves, some Andes Mint Christmas Tree Cookies (recipe coming soon), and a big batch of these Nanaimo bars, which are my absolute favorite. I can honestly say that I have had nanaimo bars every year at Christmas since I could eat solid foods. You see, Christmas just isn’t Christmas to me without these delicious treats.
Nanaimo bars are a Canadian delicacy (IMHO!) and originate from a town on the west coast of Canada, in the province of British Columbia. One day I will make a pilgrimage there. They consist of three layers – a chocolate, coconut and nut base, a creamy custard/icing type filling and then a layer of chocolate ganache on top. In my opinion (and in the opinion of many others), you MUST use Bird’s custard powder which is a British product but available in the international section of many grocery stores.
The original recipe calls for uncooked egg in the base of the squares, which my family has never been comfortable with since it’s common for these to sit out on a plate for hours while we graze. So there are a few modifications to the original recipe, also including a slightly thicker chocolate layer and a base made of pecans in place of walnuts. Here it is!
My Favorite Christmas Treat: The Nanaimo Bar
1/2 cup of salted butter
2 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
3 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Chocolate Ganache Topping
5 oz. baking chocolate (Ghirardelli is my favorite)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Mix in all other ingredients and return to heat. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool. When room temperature, transfer mixture into a square (8×8 or 9×9) baking pan, ideally lined with parchment paper (or you can spray with baking spray).
Press mixture down so that it is compact. Cool in fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Start on your custard filling. Beat together butter, milk, custard and icing sugar until smooth.
Remove base layer from fridge, gently spread on custard/icing layer and return to fridge. In the meantime, start on your ganache layer. Melt chocolate and butter in small saucepan until smooth.
Remove pan from fridge, pour on ganache layer and gently spread and smooth with a spatula. Return to fridge for 1-2 hours to allow chocolate to harden.
These squares are pretty rich, so I generally cut fairly small pieces. Hope you love them as much as I do!