Sunday, August 4, 2013

nanaimo bars for when you have to say goodbye to people you actually like

Have you ever simultaneously craved chocolate, graham crackers, hazelnuts, vanilla, and coconut at the same time? I totally have. Here's the solution: Nanaimo bars.

It's pronounced na-NIGH-mo. But if you're anything like this totally adorable guy I know, I'll let you get away with calling them Finding Nemo bars.
This glorious treat is named after Nanaimo, British Columbia, where these little slices of heaven mysteriously originated. In fact, the city of Nanaimo has an actual map of Nanaimo bar-inspired treats (Nanaimo bar milkshakes! Nanaimo bar martinis! Nanaimo bar cupcakes!) that you can find throughout their city. Going to Nanaimo for a Nanaimo bar binge is definitely in the top ten on my bucket list. Don't judge me. Nanaimo bar cheesecake! Nanaimo bar iced coffee!

I love making these little bars. They only take about 30 minutes of hands-on time, and they're the happiest little things. So I make them whenever I have to say bye to people and need to distract them from their feelings with chocolate. I made them on my last day of work, I made them for my farewell brunch in DC, and now I'm making them because I'm about to run away to Paris.

Wait, yeah, did I tell you that? I'm moving to Paris in a week. Are you sad? No you're not, because here's a ton of Nanaimo bars!

eat me!
here's the first layer
and the second layer
et numero trois

NANAIMO BARS
makes 16-25 bars, adapted from the City of Nanaimo recipe

Bottom Layer:
1 cup finely crumbled graham crackers
1/2 cup crushed hazelnuts (the original recipe uses almonds, but seriously trust me on the hazelnuts)
1 cup coconut
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten

Middle Layer:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix (like this)
2 cups confectioners sugar

Top Layer:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper sticks up on the sides, so you can easily pull the bars out of the pan.

For the bottom layer, mix together graham crackers, hazelnuts, and coconut in a large bowl. In a double boiler, melt the unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa. Once butter is melted, stir in the egg, and cook until the mixture is thickened. Pour the butter mixture over the graham cracker mixture and stir until well combined. Press the mixture evenly and firmly into the 8x8 pan. Throw it in the fridge while you work on the next step.

For the middle layer, cream together the butter, heavy cream, pudding mix, and confections sugar with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Use a spatula or the underside of a spoon to spread this middle layer over the bottom layer, making sure to cover the bottom layer entirely.

For the top layer, melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Let cool slightly, then pour over the middle layer. Use a spoon to make a pretty swirl in the chocolate.

Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.  Remove the bars from the pan by carefully pulling up the parchment paper. Score the bars, then return to the fridge for another hour or so, until top layer has completely hardened. Serve to your friends right after you tell them your bad news. Bon app├ętit chouchous!


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