For his birthday this year I decided to make hubby a Nanaimo bar birthday cake. If you're not Canadian there's a good chance you don't know what a Nanaimo bar is. I didn't. Well, as far as I can tell it's the Canadian equivalent to chocolate chip cookies here in America. It's a no-bake bar dessert that is named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, hence the capitalization of the name.
While you may think no-bake would make it easy to make there were a LOT of ingredients! I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and figured with a 4.5 out of 5 possible stars rating it must be a good recipe.
You begin by making the base layer which includes dry ingredients like graham crackers, coconut and walnuts.
Mix and set aside.
The wet part of the base is cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, vanilla and butter.
I used a double boiler, or more accurately a bain marie, to heat the mixture.
When it reached a custard like consistency it was ready.
I poured it over the dry ingredients. . .
Mixed them together. . .
And spread them into a greased cake pan. The recipe called for a 9" square pan. I don't have one so I used my round spring form pan instead. I figured it would look more birthday cake shaped that way.
Next I made the second layer by combining milk, powdered sugar and custard powder that I found at World Market. Most British foods stores would carry it too. I got the Bird brand of Custard Powder.
I blended them on high speed for a few minutes until it was creamy.
Then I spread the mixture over the chocolate base.
I used a small offset spatula which worked perfectly!
Into the fridge it went for two hours to harden.
Once firm I melted some semi-sweet chocolate with a little butter and spread over the creamy base using the same offset spatula.
Back in the fridge it went for a few more hours to harden.
If the chocolate on top is too hard when you cut it, the top will crack so either allow the pan to warm to room temperature a bit or run your knife under hot water (drying it on a cloth before each time) to cut through the chocolate top. That's what I did and it worked really well.
Hubby was very surprised. He'd asked me to learn to make this for him months ago but I never did so his birthday seemed like a good reason to take on the challenge. It was hard mostly because I'd never seen one in real life and didn't even know what it was supposed to taste like. But it was a success. See how happy he was? Like a little kid :)
So here's the thing, normally the bars are cut into very small squares because they are incredibly rich. It's like fudge, but sweeter. Far too sweet for my taste so I ate little bites of it spread on plain graham crackers which I'm sure is a Canadian faux pas so don't tell anyone. LOL
Here's the recipe on Allrecipes.com one more time in case you want to try making Nanaimo bars of your own. Hubby tells me they freeze well too. Good to know in case you make too big of a batch.