no-no nanaimo bars

December 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

nanaimo crowd

This recipe has been in my queue for a long time. I mean…forever. It’s probably been bookmarked since before the meteor crashed into earth and killed all the dinosaurs this blog was even started. Somehow, for some probably stupid and now unknown reasons, I never got to make it until now.

See the thing is, I have a confession. I love Nanaimo bars…and honestly, all things Canadian. Give me some maple candy, gravy and cheese smothered poutine, and some snow and I will love you forever and ever. I grew up right on the border between the US and Canada, and for some reason my town was one that liked to make fun of the Canadiennes. Whether for their funny cute pronunciation of about, their stupid fun name for policemen, and their unprofessional awesome colored money!

nanaimo bar

I don’t care what kind of flack I get from my hometowners, because trips to Toronto were an integral part of my childhood. I loved shopping on Queen Street, getting haircuts in Chinatown, and stopping at many a Tim Hortons on the two hour trips there and back. The cool thing about living on the border is that you get to experience two cultures that are slightly different. I’ll never forget the funny confusion that involved my parents, a Canadian Tim Hortons, and the startling difference in sizing. In that way, Canada is kind of European, I guess. Never really super-sizing things and spelling things like the Brits.

Looking back, I’ve come to realize that Toronto was ‘my city’. In the same way that for some it’s New York City. Despite having lived in New York for most of my life, I’ve been to the city less times than there are fingers on my hand while trips to Toronto are more than I can begin to count. Even now in college, it’s very comforting to sit down at the bakery/coffee/bagel shop and nibble on a creamy, indulgent Nanaimo bar. Considering how simple it is to whip these up at home, that seems like a habit that will be quickly kicked.

everyone in the pot

No-No Nanaimo Bars
adapted from Seven Spoons

So a quick disclaimer. These aren’t really Nanaimo bars. Hence the title. They’re baked and don’t use a custard powder, but I think they are still pretty great.

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (0.875 ounce) packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with 55% to 60% cacao

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the crumbs, coconut, pecans, and butter and pat it very firmly into the lined pan. (I used an oddly proportion 7×11 pan, but you can use a 9×9 if that’s more normal.) Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it looks slightly darker at the edges and smells toasted.

While the crust is baking, mix the filling. In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and then the egg. When the crust is baked, dollop the filling onto the hot crust and spread gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the bars until the edges are slightly puffed, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Melt the heavy cream and chocolate together and mix until it makes a smooth, glossy ganache. Pour the warm ganache onto the bars, spread, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Lift the bars out of the pan by using the edges of the foil liner. Cut into 16 or 25 squares, wiping the knife between cuts. May be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

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