Domestic Goddess is again hosting Sugar High Friday and this time the theme is the dessert you crave. I was beginning to think I was going to miss out on Sugar High Friday this time due to the oven failure, but when you crave chocolate there’s always a way — even if you just eat the chocolate chips straight from the bag! :-D
I don’t have *THE* dessert that I love most; I like almost anything with chocolate, apple pie, cakes, my MIL’s gingersnap cookies, bakalava, and pretty soon the list gets so long you start to think that as long as it has sugar in it, Fruittart probably likes it! ;-) The Husband, on the other hand, used to be the sort of person that if you offered him a banana or chocolate cake, he would take the banana. I’ve corrupted him. He quite happily eats pretty much anything I make and sometimes he claims that whatever dessert I’ve made is ‘his favorite’. But when it comes down to it, there are only a few desserts he will ever request — fruit tarts and truffle tarts, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate flowers, and Nanaimo bars.
The person who gave me the original recipe says that Nanaimo bars are a strictly Canadian treat and named for Nanaimo, British Columbia and there are even Nanaimo Bar contests in Canada, which also would have made this the perfect entry if the SHF theme had been all-Canadian as I believe was the initial plan. Perhaps one of the Canadian readers will chime in on this. In the 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book, there is a recipe nearly identical to this called a ‘Fudge Meltaway’ but it doesn’t have the custard powder in the middle layer. You can make it w/o the custard powder, and even make a cream cheese sort of filling, but I’m going to tell you that it is absolutely THE BEST *with* the custard powder. Locally, in IL, we used not to be able to get this stuff and I would ‘import’ it from WA when we would visit, but now it can be found at both World Market and Meijer. I almost always make these at Christmas and because they are no-bake bars, they are nice for summer desserts if refrigeration won’t be a problem.
Sometimes when I score the chocolate before cutting through I can get most of the tops to be in one piece, but often the tops look like ‘earthquake bars’. I added a little too much milk to the middle layer today so it is a little too runny in the picture. There are several versions of my own making listed below. I was told that the only ‘official’ ones are plain and mint but that many families make their own versions. My favorites are the original/plain and orange. The ones pictured are orange.
I took some to the Husband’s office and took a few to the NAPA store today when I went to pick up the trailer hitch. Joe at NAPA particularly liked them and was quite appreciative of the gift. He was pretty funny eating them — Man, those are so good, I think I’m going to have to have another one! :-D
½ c. butter, melted
1/4 c. granulated sugar
5 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (one packet of crackers)
1 c. dessicated coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts (I prefer pecans, almonds or hazelnuts)
Combine first 5 ingredients in a double boiler and cook until like custard. Remove from heat and add next 3 ingredients; mix well. Pa ck HARD (like cement) into buttered 9-inch square pan.
1/4 c. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk or cream
3 Tbsp. Harry Horner’s custard powder (or Bird’s brand, one packet)
2 c. powdered sugar
Cream first 3 ingredients. Blend in sugar. Spread on 1st layer. Put in fridge to chill (not necessary but makes the next step a little easier).
3 squares unsweetened chocolate (I prefer 4 squares and sometimes use semi-sweet but bitter is best!)
1 tsp. butter
Melt together in double boiler. Pour over 2nd layer and spread quickly. Store in fridge to chill before cutting into squares. Best kept refrigerated.
Tip: Line a 9-inch pan with foil and butter the foil, then you can lift it out of the pan and cut the bars on a cutting board. If you do not like coconut, just add more nuts and vice versa.
Mint Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of mint extract to the middle layer and, if desired, a few drops of green food coloring.
Mint Nanaimos II: Make middle layer as for plain version; melt Andes candies bits for the top layer and sprinkle with additional Andes candies bits. See below.
Orange or Raspberry Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of orange or raspberry extract to the middle layer. This is particularly good with hazelnuts in the bottom layer. You can also add orange or raspberry liqueur to the bottom layer after it has been removed from the heat.
Cherry Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of cherry extract to the middle layer and, if desired, a few drops of red food coloring. This is particularly good with almonds in the bottom layer and you can replace the vanilla extract with almond.
Peanut Butter Nanaimos: For the bottom layer, use peanuts and do not add coconut. Replace the middle layer with the following:
1 Tbsp. butter
3-4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 pkg Bird’s custard powder
2-4 Tbsp. milk
2 c. powdered sugar
Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars
Sorry, I had to close the comments on this post because of the spam I was getting. :-P