Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nanaimo Bars aka I'M BACK Y'ALL





'Tis the season!!

So yes, it's been more than a year since I've posted on this blog but if you know the kind of year I've had, you would understand. And then you would kick me in the butt and ask me why I didn't just sit down and WRITE ON THE BLOG already (because that's what I was asking myself, too.)

Well, I'm BACK! What has brought me back, you ask? Because it's not like I stopped baking (I didn't) or writing (I mean, I started writing again, ok?). Part of it is because I have a lot more free time now. Yes folks, for those who don't know, I quit my job a month ago and now I find myself a lady of leisure (kindanotreally) with more time to bake, write and watch Homeland and Grey's Anatomy re-runs. It's pretty great. #GodBlessNetflix.



Good timing too, because it's the holidays (Santa exists) and because I'm trying to save what little money I have, I decided to bake goodies instead of buy presents. And if you really know me, you know that that's a hard thing to do - not buy Christmas presents. Because I LOVE Christmas and I LOVE buying people presents. I would spend obscene amounts of money on presents because I love making my family and friends happy AND I want Christmas to last as long as possible, so the more gifts I have to give, the longer it lasts, right?? (Yes, I know, I should stop spending so much money on presents.)

But this year, I have no choice, so that brings me back to baking. I decided to make five different kinds of holiday goodies, starting with Nanaimo Bars. I've never made them before, but they always remind me of my Grandpa, Jim, who hands down made the best Nanaimo Bars in the country/world. (Miss you, Gramps!) Now, my aunt (Hi, Ruthie!) makes the most decadent Nanaimo Bars every Christmas and there is no way I could even possibly begin to make bars as good as hers.

So I guess I gained some newfound confidence or something because I MADE THEM and HOLY SHIT they are AMAZING.



I got the recipe from the Butter Baked Goods book (which I highly recommend and thank you Mike's mom for getting this for me last Christmas. See? Christmas presents are the best!) and while this recipe makes delicious bars, the book did forget one important thing: the ingredients for the top layer of the bar. So, I had to make it up, which was really easy and anyone could have done it but it makes me feel good that I got to MAKE UP a part of Butter's recipe. Hello, CONFIDENCE, where have you been all my life?



Ok, here's the recipe, you ravenous people you:

Nanaimo Bars

Base:

- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark cocoa (I don't know what "dark" cocoa is so I just used regular cocoa that you can find at any grocery store)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla (I'm sure artificial vanilla extract is fine but I splurged on pure vanilla at No Frills, which made me feel like a boss)

Filling:

- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tbsp custard powder
- 2 tbsp hot water

Top: (I MADE THIS UP AND IT WORKS)

- 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp butter

Makes: 12-16 bars

Pan: 9x9 inch pan, buttered and lined with parchment paper


1. In a large bowl, combine the graham crumbs, coconut, walnuts and chocolate chips.

2. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup of butter with the sugar and cocoa until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine.

3. Pour the melted mixture over the graham crumb mixture and stir until well combined. Press into the prepared pan firmly and evenly. Set aside.



4. Prepare the filling: in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, icing sugar and custard powder on medium to high speed until pale in colour. (I always start on the low setting so the flour doesn't spill over the bowl.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the hot water. Turn the mixer to medium and continue to beat until the filling is light and fluffy.

5. Use a small offset spatula (I used a regular sized one) to spread the filling across the top of the graham crumb base smoothly and evenly. Set aside.



6. In a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (I just used a regular pot), melt the chocolate chips and remaining 1 tbsp of butter. Pour over the filling and spread evenly with a spatula. (I found that after you pour all the chocolate on the filling, you can just tilt the pan until the chocolate spreads evenly over the filling. That way, you don't need to use a spatula and there's less a chance for the filling to mix with the chocolate, so it's all one pretty chocolate layer.)



7. Place the pan in the fridge for at least one hour or until the chocolate top has set.

8. Run a small knife along the pan. Carefully remove the slab from the pan and cut into 2x2 inch bars.





NOW GO EAT, YOU SCOUNDRELS.




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