There’s a lot of history in England. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by it every day, but then again so is everyone else living here! I can’t say for sure, but I think I may have a greater awareness of the history surrounding me than most Brits living here do because I come from a country that’s only 143 years old. Here in the UK, as well as most of Europe, almost everything is old. I mean REALLY OLD. Walk down any street here and you’re bound to come across a building or monument that’s at least a few hundred years old. One of my favourite local pubs is over 700 years old, and is rumored to be the second oldest pub in the country with origins dating to the 9th century! It would be pretty difficult to find a building more than 100 years old in Canada. Sure, there are a few – but just a few. So with all this history surrounding me, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that so many of the food names we’re familiar with have originated from cities in the UK.
5 Tbsp Cocoa
1 cup (90g) Coconut
1 tsp Vanilla
½ cup (75g) chopped Pecans, Walnuts or Hazelnuts*
* I used hazelnuts in my bars, but if you don’t want nuts in yours you can substitute them with another ½ cup of graham cracker crumbs instead.
1. Place the softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and eggs in top of double boiler. Mix well and set over boiling water. Heat and stir until it resembles custard.
2. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press evenly into a greased 9 inch square pan. Set aside to cool.
¼ cup (57g) butter, softened
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups (250g) sifted icing sugar
Cream butter until soft and smooth. Combine the milk and vanilla custard powder, then add to the butter. Blend in the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spread over the chocolate base. Chill for 10 – 15 minutes to become firm.
Melt 4 squares (4oz or 114g) semi-sweet chocolate with 1 Tbsp butter and spread over the custard icing. When chocolate has set, cut into bars. *I opted for the easy route, and used an entire large bar (300g) of the Silver Spoon Cake Craft Chocolate covering for these. It’s not the best, but it pours and dries well.
Because I used a lot more chocolate than what was required I had a slightly thicker chocolate layer on my bars. I found the easiest way to cut these is to freeze them, and had a tall container of very hot water near by. Dip your knife in the hot water for a minute and dry it off well. Then use your hot knife to cut through the bars. This will ensure that the chocolate won’t crack or the icing layer won’t smoosh out, and you’ll have nice clean cuts.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I grew up in Victoria, BC which is only about an hour or so away from Nanaimo. I think it’s pretty cool that I’m living a zillion miles away, and in a country that’s so full of it’s own history, I can still can share a bit of my Canadian foodie history with you. And speaking of history, I just have to point out this little plate I used to display my Nanaimo bars on. It’s over 80 years old, and belonged to my grandma. She gave me this little piece of Canadian history when I visited her this past summer. It was given to her by her grandma when she went to visit Saskatoon, SK aka “The Big City”, which back then was a really big deal. So even though this plate might not be considered very old in the UK, it’s definitely old where I come from!