Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

As you may remember from my previous post, I attempted to make Nanaimo Bars for the very first time last weekend. I am very excited to report that they were a great success. My husband went so far as to say they were the best he's ever had!

I used a recipe from the Joy of Baking website that I selected because they seemed like truly authentic Nanaimo Bars. No plain cookie crumb bottoms on these babies! Here's the spread of ingredients used for just the bottom layer. You can click on almost any of my pictures to see a larger version.

Time for a confession...I totally messed up on the bottom layer. I'm still not sure how it happened but instead of using half a cup of butter, I decided the recipe said to put in a whole cup. You're supposed to cook the butter, cocoa and sugar until it thickens and this is supposed to take 1-2 minutes. Well I cooked mine for nearly 10 minutes and nothing happened. It was then I realized I had doubled the butter. Oops! At this point I wondered if I should even keep going with the recipe but happily a lot of the extra butter came to the surface when I pressed the finished mixture into the pan and I was able to soak most of it up. So my bottom layer might not taste exactly like it's supposed to but I'm not too worried since it still turned out delicious.

For the second layer one of the key ingredients was custard powder. I'll admit that I googled custard powder because I wasn't really sure what it was or if I'd even be able to find it at my local grocery store. The recipe says you can substitute vanilla pudding powder so that was my plan but, to my surprise, my local Sobey's does indeed sell authentic Bird's Custard Powder just like you'd get in the UK. I decided to spend the extra to buy the custard powder instead of the pudding and I'm so glad I did. The middle layer turned out creamy and delicious but without that overwhelming sweetness that you so often find in Nanaimo Bars. Needless to say, I was happy with the decision to spend the $5 and, now that I've got the can, I've been checking out other recipes I can make using custard powder.

No need to bore you with any details about the top layer. It was just melted chocolate and butter. I will say that I highly recommend chopping up your chocolate into fairly small pieces before you melt it. It yields a better consistency and it helps prevent burning. Also, don't let anyone tell you that you need a double boiler to melt chocolate. All I do is balance a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. As long as the bowl isn't touching the water then you're good to go. I call it my ghetto double boiler!

I wrote before that I doubted my bars would live up to the picture accompanying the recipe but I surprised myself. Here's the picture from the website next to my picture. You be the judge!

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