Favorite Friday - Nanaimo Bars

As part of our family trip this summer we went to a little town in Canada called Nanaimo. We loved the whole laid back vibe of the place, the beautiful scenery, the hiking and outdoor fun, and our favorite thing was the Nanaimo Bars. Nanaimo Bars are not like anything I've ever had before. They're a little like a no bake cookie with frosting, an extra topping and ganache on the top. So yummy! The favorite ones we tried came from a little bakery/deli in Nanaimo, Bocca Bakery. They were salted caramel and they had won several awards. They were so awesome. The first thing I did when I got home was go searching on the Internet for a recipe. I found this one on www.aimadeitforyou.com. I really like it. I made it almost just as the recipe said. I couldn't find the vanilla paste the original recipe called for in the store, so I used vanilla. I also couldn't find the fleur de sel, so I used Kosher salt. And I added an extra tablespoon of butter to the top layer to make it flow. It turned out fabulous, although I might need to find a different salted caramel layer. Maybe I can work with the salted caramel from this recipe. With the way you do this one, melting the sugar and then adding the butter, the caramel has a really hard time when you add the butter and I burned my finger quite badly.

Salted Caramel Nanaimo Bars

Bottom layer
½ cup butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup toasted coconut (flakes/shredded/desiccated) 
½ cup toasted sliced almonds

I toasted the almonds and coconut in the oven on tin foil for 10 minutes. (They make a heavenly smell when they're toasted!)

Middle layer
¼ cup butter, softened at room temperature
¾ teaspoon powdered milk
¾ teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon vanilla 
Pinch of salt
1¼ cups powdered sugar
1½ tablespoons heavy cream

Salted caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Top layer
4 oz (120g) chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoon butter

Bottom layer
Line an 8x8-inch square pan with some parchment paper. Set aside.
Using a double boiler, heat the first three ingredients and stir until combined. Take it off the heat and slowly pour in the beaten egg while constantly stirring.
Once the mixture is combined, stir in the cracker crumbs, coconut, almond, and press into the prepared pan.
Put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the middle layer.

Middle layer
In a bowl, beat the butter until fluffy and creamy. Add the milk powder, cornstarch, vanilla paste, salt, and continue to beat.
Add the powdered sugar in three parts, beating after each addition.
Beat in the heavy cream after the powdered sugar has been incorporated, and spread over the bottom layer. Put the pan back in the refrigerator to chill.

Salted caramel
Add the granulated sugar to a nonstick pan in an even layer. Heat on medium-high heat until the sugar melts. Swirl the pan as the sugar melts so they melt evenly.
Continue cooking the sugar until it turns a deep amber color (about 350°F/175°C).
Take the pan off the heat, add the butter and stir until all the butter has melted. Add the cream and stir again. Once the cream has been incorporated, add the fleur de sel and stir until all the salt has melted into the caramel.
Let it cool to room temperature and spread over the middle layer. Again, place the pan back in the refrigerator to chill.

Top layer
In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate and unsalted butter and stir until combined. Let it cool slightly before spreading it over the caramel layer.
Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before cutting and serving.

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