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Nanaimo Bars

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If you are a regular reader of Feasts for All Seasons you may notice a few changes to the site. That’s because in the recent, nearly month long lull without recipes I was in the process of finally deciding to move this blog from wordpress to its own domain. I say “I” but I had some technical help and a lot of moral support as I neurotically panicked about, well, everything.

When I started FFAS nearly 2 years ago it was just a trial. I had the idea in my head that I wanted to write a cookbook but wondered if i had enough material and truly enough of a desire to write that much about cooking or take all the pictures. The blog began as a practice run, a temporary try at something I thought I liked doing. What it became was a major ongoing project and something I love to do. The book is in progress (though without a publisher!)

When I decided to make the switch, I was terrified! What if I lost content or had to re-build posts? I know nothing about websites, what if I was technically deficient? Why did I even want to change it? Getting off the free wordpress blog platform means more flexibility with site content and customization. It also means that the site can expand and change more as it grows and evolves.  I hope that you like the format and any feedback you have will be appreciated; good, bad or ugly.

So how do Nanaimo bars factor in? When I first started talking about making big blog changes it became glaringly obvious that I was a bit in over my head and was not too confident with the technical aspect (which I understand isn’t hard, but it’s sort of like performing minor surgery on your own child … you can be just too close to the situation). Luckily, a guy that I work with stepped up to help and not only moved the blog, helped me search for the perfect widgets, redirected traffic from the old URL and made it such that subscribers are still subscribed and will continue to get email updates when posts are deployed. For an analog brain like mine, that was a real gift.  In return I offered to cook or bake him anything he wanted. Anything at all. With almost no hesitation, he smiled and said “Nanaimo Bars”.

Nanaimo bars are a regional treat from Nanaimo, a small city on Vancouver Island, not so very far from Vancouver. They are a very common dessert here and from what I have heard, are popular in many places, some quite far afield. No matter where you are or where you are from, they are a delicious treat and I hope that they work well as payment for the blog update. I’m sharing a slightly tweaked version of the “official” recipe, courtesy of the City of Nanaimo. Enjoy!

Nanaimo Bars

This recipe is made in 3 distinct layers and fits in an 8×8 square pan. 

For the bottom later:

½ cup unsalted butter, melted (substitute margarine for a vegan version)
¼ cup sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ C pecans
1 cup shredded coconut

Combine everything but the butter in a food processor and pulse until the nuts and coconut are finely chopped. Add the melted butter with the machine running. The mixture will be like damp sand. Pack the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom of a 8×8 inch pan.

For the middle layer:

½ cup unsalted butter (substitute margarine for a vegan version)
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp milk (substitute soy, etc. for a vegan version)
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (eliminate for a vegan version)
2 cups icing sugar

In a mixer, beat together the butter and custard powder, slowly adding the icing sugar and milk. Beat well until pale and fluffy. Spread this frosting over the bottom layer, making a thick, even layer.

For the top layer:

4 oz. (2/3 of a cup) semi sweet chocolate
2 Tbsp butter

Melt the chocolate and butter together over medium low heat (or in the microwave) until liquid and pour-able. Pour over the middle layer and spread evenly. Chill in the refrigerator at least 30 mins before cutting. These are very rich so cut them small (makes 24-36 little bars)

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