During my Alaskan cruise in June, we had our one evening stop in Victoria. In a few days, you'll get to read about the maple extravaganza and the recipe it inspired, but I wasn't all about maple. I visited Victoria with a specific mission.
I knew that they are regarded as a Canadian confectionary delight. I already had several recipes pinned on Pinterest, but how was I going to know if I got the recipe right until I tried the real thing?
My husband's food goal for Victoria was to visit a Tim Horton's. He's used their travel mugs for years and needed a new one, and he loves Timbits.
Before the cruise, I researched for our food mission. There are no Tims near the tourist bonanza of downtown, nor were there any bakeries--the wharf area is all about the nightlife. I had to ask on a cruise forum, and some kind Canadians recommended a particular grocery store with an amazing bakery. It ended up being only a few blocks from Tim Horton's, though all told, we walked well over a mile into the vacant business district on a Saturday night.
It was worth it.
For my husband's birthday in September, he didn't request cake or pie. He wanted Nanaimo bars. I rewrote a recipe to make a 9x13 pan so he would have plenty to share at work.
I have a note on this regarding the pudding. Traditional bars use custard powder--a British/Canadian thing. I was able to find this locally at Fresh & Easy because they were (until a few weeks ago, anyway) owned by Tesco. However, you can substitute using Jell-O instant vanilla pudding.
I can absolutely say that these taste like the real thing.
Nanaimo Bars (9x13 pan)
modified from Live Craft Eat
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
10 Tb Cocoa powder, sifted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
To make the base:
1) Melt butter in a large pot. Add the sugar and cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
2) In a bowl, whisk eggs with vanilla and then pour into butter mixture. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts.
3) Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray. Pour the crust mix into pan and compress it to be as even as possible. Chill until set.
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
6 Tb vanilla custard powder (or vanilla Jell-O powder)
1/2 cup milk
6 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
To make the filling:
1) Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add custard powder (or pudding powder) and milk. Gradually beat in sugar.
2) Spread over chilled base and let set in fridge for several hours or overnight.
16 ounces chocolate
4 Tb butter
To make topping:
1) Melt together chocolate and butter and stir until smooth. Spread in an even layer over chilled filling.
2) Store in fridge until chocolate topping begins to harden, about 10-15 minutes. Pull out the bars by the aluminum foil and cut into bars. (If the chocolate sets too long, it will crack when you cut it.)
Nanaimo bars will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks in a covered container, or can be frozen.
OM NOM NOM, eh?