There was a big Canada Day celebration at work, and I volunteered to bake a Canadian dessert. I actually don’t like Nanaimo bars; I don’t like coconut in desserts, and I really don’t like the overly sweet custard layer. I wanted to make these with a twist, so I decided to swap the custard layer for a creme patissiere layer. Several people told me that these were the best Nanaimo bars they’ve ever had, so I think it was a winning decision. You could make the argument that they aren’t truly Nanaimo bars anymore, but I’ve decided they’re objectively better.
I made a really giant amount of this (13″ X 18″ pan), so the recipe below is halved for a 9″ X 13″ pan. Parts of the recipe are adopted from this Nanaimo bar recipe.
NANAIMO BAR BASE
- 225 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
- 100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 62 g (½ cup + 2 tbsp.) cocoa
- 2 eggs
- 3.5 cups graham crumbs
- 2 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped almonds (optional)
- Line a 9″ X 13″ pan with parchment paper.
- On a bain marie, mix together the butter, sugar, and cocoa until melted and smooth.
- In a bowl, mix together the two eggs.
- Pour a little bit of the hot chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix rapidly to temper the eggs.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the chocolate mixture and mix until thick.
- Remove from heat and mix in the graham crumbs and coconut (and almonds)
- Press into the pan in an even layer.
- 500 ml full fat milk
- 100g granulated sugar
- 40g cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- half a vanilla bean
- Pour ¾ of milk into a saucepan, and ¼ into a separate bowl.
- Put the saucepan over medium heat, and add in the split vanilla pod and seeds.
- Dissolve the sugar and cornstarch into the bowl, and then mix in the yolks. Whisk extremely well to get out any lumps.
- When the milk comes to a boil, pour half of it on the egg mixture (and mix well) to temper the eggs. Then add the egg mixture back into the saucepan, and whisk hard!
- When it starts to boil, take off heat.
- After it has cooled for a few minutes, pour onto the graham layer.
- Use a whisk!
- Cornstarch binds at 72˚C, but it’s a good idea to cook until boiling.
- If you mix the heated custard in a machine until cold, you’ll get a very fine and smooth custard
- 250 g dark chocolate
- 20 g butter
- Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain marie.
- When it has cooled slightly, pour over the pastry cream and even out
- I chilled the pastry cream first, and this was a big mistake. The pastry cream completely set and the chocolate didn’t adhere at all to the other layers.