Wednesday 30 July 2014

Recipe: Nanaimo bars

Recipe: Nanaimo bars
My Kitchen Antics

We had a big family event at the weekend that required lots and lots of cake! I was happy to help and was asked to make something that would serve 20+ people. As well as being tasty, it needed to be something that could be stored for a couple of days, wasn’t messy to eat and, since I work full-time, I also wanted it to be incredibly easy to make or a recipe that I’d successfully made before. I opted for the latter...

I was first told about Nanaimo bars by a colleague in my old work. She told me they originated in Canada and, once I’d looked them up on Wikipedia, I knew I just had to make them. When the time came, I settled on this recipe from My Kitchen Antics (adapted from The Boy Who Bakes) because I was too lazy to follow a recipe that used cups for measurements, and I also liked the way it had added pecans to the base.

The first time I ever made these, I also made a peanut butter version (following a different recipe), and both types were a big hit. I’ve made this ‘original’ recipe again since and they turned out exactly the same – no problems! My memory did fail me, though, as I was thinking I’d only previously got 16 pieces out of the batch rather than the predicted 20–25, so I ended up making two batches for the weekend...I ended up with 40 slices. Oh well, the more the merrier!

For some reason, I didn’t read the recipe properly on this occasion, so I lined my baking trays with greased baking paper rather than foil. Whilst this did turn out ok, it made it harder to ease the finished product from the tins, so I’ll definitely be sticking to the foil in future!

The recipe was as easy as I remembered it. I used digestive biscuits which I whizzed in the food processor and the smell of these combined with the coconut was fantastic. When preparing the cocoa mixture for the base, I loved watching it turn silky and thick and, once combined with the rest of the ingredients, all the elements held together really well and left the mixing bowl clean once transferred to the baking tray. It smelt delicious and tiffin-like, although its slightly greasy appearance didn’t look promising in terms of any health benefits. (Who am I kidding? This was never going to be a healthy treat!) In terms of pressing this layer down into the tin, I’ve always found that the back of a metal serving spoon does the job nicely.

The middle layer was my only cause for concern on this occasion. When mixing the butter and icing sugar, it didn’t go smooth before I added the cream (as the picture shows), and I couldn’t remember if that had happened before. I carried on regardless and, thankfully, everything turned out fine. For this layer, I used a spatula to spread it evenly.

I was slightly nervous about the final layer of these bars as my last experience was of making an orange version where I made the stupid mistake of setting the heat too high and leaving the chocolate for the full two minutes without checking on it. The result was a burnt-tasting ganache! I definitely learnt from my error and had no further problems this time so I quite happily applied it to the top of the traybake with a palette knife.

The only downside of this recipe is that it does require patience in taking time to spread each layer out carefully (although I’m a non-artistic perfectionist so probably take longer than most!) and then leaving them to set. On this occasion, my start to end baking time was around five hours but, bearing in mind I made two batches, stopped for lunch, had a couple of fights with cling film (urgh) and realised part way through that I didn’t have enough icing sugar and had to wait for more to arrive, this seemed totally reasonable. Even better was the fact that I remained stress-free throughout!

Most importantly, the Nanaimo bars were as rich as ever. They had a lovely chocolatey taste with a subtle coconut flavour and chunky pecans. I guess they weren’t too dissimilar from other chocolate traybakes, but I think these Nanaimo bars were sweeter than most, although this was mellowed greatly by the chocolate. I’ve always found that the custard adds more texture than flavour, whilst the icing sugar provides a different, slightly grainy texture in the middle layer, which is also something different to other similar treats.

As for the crowd, they were definitely pleased – I only heard positive comments from those who tried them and some people raved and raved. I know I’ll be making these for years to come!

Ease of recipe: 9.5/10
Finished product:
Overall score:
Bake again?

1 comment:

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