You know I love food, but have I ever mentioned how much I love to devour... books? Good food, good books... I could die happy. I usually have to find the audio version or I'll never get through it with the FREQUENT kid-interruptions. It is a fantastic motivator for doing dishes! You know I'm in the middle of a good book when I have no dishes in my sink... or sometimes it can have the opposite effect and I'm cooking and baking everything, all over the place; I won't leave the kitchen, because I have to finish the book. (I'm embarrassed to admit Harry Potter did that to me.)
I am part of such a delightful book group. I love these ladies dearly! We talk books, we laugh and cry together... then we eat Nanimo Bars. (Well, not every time, we just happened to be lucky enough to have our Canadian friend, Melinda hosting, and she whipped these up; which, after examining the recipe, was no small feat!) They are quite delicious- I liked the little creamy layer. They were saying you can find that vanilla custard powder at most grocery stores.
Happy reading... I mean eating. :)
*A little history, thanks to Wikipedia:
The Nanaimo bar is a dessert item of Canadian origin popular across North America. It is a bar cookie which requires no baking and is named after the West Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It consists of a wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavored butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. Many varieties exist, consisting of different types of crumb with different flavors of icing (e.g.,mint, peanut butter) and different types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint- or mocha-flavored icing.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 cups confectioners (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with a single sheep of parchment paper, leaving enough room that you can grab the paper on two sides so you can lift the bars out when they are finished. This makes it MUCH easier to cut.
Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).
Middle Layer: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water (or a double boiler if you have one), melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set.
When the bars are sufficiently chilled, lift the parchment paper and put on a large cutting board. Remove the paper. To cut the bars, press down on the bars with a sharp knife.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Do not use a sawing motion. From time to time, rinse your knife under hot water and dry quickly with a paper towel. You will get much cleaner edges by pressing instead of sawing.