Search Results for: Snacks

The Cake and Bake Show – What I Really Thought

This past weekend finally saw the highly anticipated Cake and Bake Show come to London. The Cake and Bake Show was labeled as “the first live event dedicated to the world of cakes, breads and the art of baking.”

The show had a star studded line up of demonstrators and guest speakers set to appear including British baking royalty Marry Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mitch Turner, Eric Lanlard, Peggy Porschen and more.

I hadn’t actually planned on attending The Cake and Bake Show as I’d already attended two cake and sugarcraft shows (Squires & Cake International) earlier in the year, and acquired enough new equipment, lustre dusts and colourings to last me at least a year.  


The two day Cake and Bake Show had been sold out for weeks.  As I hadn’t intended on going I didn’t arrange for a press ticket, but then didn’t want to appear cheeky by requesting one at the last minute.  So when I got an email two weeks before the event stating that additional tickets for the Sunday show had been released, I bought one and decided that attending another cake show couldn’t hurt.  In addition to my entry ticket I also bought a “classroom” ticket to the Hand Painted Cakes session.  I’d missed out on some of the free classes at the Cake International show that allowed you to decorate cupcakes, and learn new cookie decorating techniques amongst others.  I thought that by booking a space in the classroom I would be guaranteed a seat and also be supplied with some materials to practice on during the class.  I was wrong, but I’ll come back to that part later.

First things first. I arrived at Earls Court around 10:30am, and was cheerfully ushered inside by a venue staff member.  I was really excited to see there weren’t any long lines to get in, and assumed I would be able to walk straight into the show.  Nope. Upon walking down a small flight of stairs and turning the corner my heart sank when I saw the excessively long line to enter the show.  In fact I couldn’t see then beginning of the line and I couldn’t see the end either.  I ended up waiting in line in the dimly lit basement corridors of Earls Court for nearly half an hour before I got into the show.

The crowd to see Marry Berry.  Don’t worry – you’re not the only one who can’t spot her!

When I did finally get in, I wasn’t prepared for just how busy the show would be.  It was packed.  Marry Berry was on stage doing a demonstration, but the crowds were so thick I couldn’t even see the stage.  I had no idea where to go or what to see, so I tried to find a printed map of the show I could take with me, only to discover that I would have to pay £3 for a show guide and map.  I didn’t buy it incase I needed the cash later in the day.   I walked past the stage to explore the  and ventured into the classroom area, which was quite bare and quiet compared to the main part of the show.   It was here that discovered the class I booked, wasn’t in fact an interactive class, but just a seat I’d secured in a demonstration area.  I was beyond disappointed, and genuinely felt that I’d been “had”.  Especially when I noticed non-paying onlookers watching the exact same demonstrations while standing just outside the classroom paid “VIP” area. 

To avoid paying £3 for a show guide I had to take a photo of the map on my phone. Notice the confusing floor layout

I made my way back to the main room to explore what was on show, but found the layout to be extremely confusing.  I ended up wasting a lot of time wandering around looking for specific booths, and even ended up needing directions via twitter on where the book store and signing area was.  In the end I ended up taking pictures of the classroom schedules and show layout on my iphone from one of the 3 large display boards that were scattered around the show so I’d have something to refer to because I didn’t fork over the £3 for the show guide.  

Marry Berry (a tad blurry) seconds before she was escorted away by security


Apologies for the horrific quality and lack of photos from the show, but it was so crowded I didn’t take many.

One of the “classroom” areas – £8 to sit down inside the “VIP” area, Free to stand and watch outside

I really can’t comment on the rest of the show because it was so ridiculously crowded and poorly laid out that I couldn’t muster up the energy to push my way through the crowds. In the end I spent the majority of my time waiting for and watching a couple of the smaller demonstrations, which also allowed me to sit down.  I did explore the retail stalls nearer to the end of the show once the crowds had thinned out.  The retails stalls were a lot of the same ones I’d seen at Cake International earlier in the year, but with a much smaller selection of products and mainly geared to cupcakes, and a bit of sugarcraft.  Aside from a few specialty flour sellers, I saw very little in the way of baking anything other than cupcakes.  I will say that I was very impressed with the colour range of the Squires Kitchen cupcake cases though.

I sat in on Peggy’s hand moulded rose demonstrations which was excellent

Peggy demonstrating how to make her signature “vintage bloom” sugar flowers


Negatives aside, I accomplished what I wanted to get out of the show.  I managed to purchase Edd Kimber’s new book, and have him sign it.  I even got to see Marry Berry up close before she was whisked away by her team of security (15 minutes prior to the scheduled end of her book signing I might add).  I got to sit in on two excellent flower demonstrations by Peggy Porschen and her team – both free, and in a more private setting with better lighting than the rest of the paid classrooms.  And I really did enjoy the hand painted cakes class instructed by Natasha Collins of Nevie-Pie Cakes.  I came away with a clear understanding of what materials and techniques are involved in order to create gorgeous hand painted cakes and cookies, but I only wish we would have had a chance to put some of those techniques to use on a fondant covered cookie.


Natasha’s hand painted cakes demo – she made it look sooo easy!

The Goods: 

– If you’re willing to brave the crowds, you had the chance to get up close and personal with your favourite celebrity bakers.
– There looked like there was a lot to keep kids occupied (cupcake decorating, demo watching, etc)
– If you were looking for funky cupcake cases there were TONS available
– There were some excellent free demonstrations, although seating was very limited
– The retail stalls allowed you to see and purchase physical products rather than ordering them online. 
– The Book People were selling a great range of recipe books at online prices – I was thrilled that I was able to purchase Edd’s book for £10 rather than the £19 cover price

The Bads:

– Tired venue and very confusing layout. It was also very poorly lit.
– Too much focus on cupcakes
– The lines for the bathrooms were crazy long.  I had my first drink of the day at 3pm in order to avoid having to go to the bathroom
– Ticketed demonstrations were easily watched by onlookers for free & we weren’t given the opportunity to practice what we learnt.
– The crowds.  I’d recommend the organisers look to extend future shows to 3 days
– There was a lack of actual cake & snacks that were available to purchase and eat on the spot.  The venue cafe actually ran out of sandwiches, so all the was available to eat were crisps and brownies that weren’t even supplied by any of the independent businesses involved with the show.  I ended up spending £4.10 on a small glass bottle of pepsi and a bag of crisps.

Top Tips:

– Bring cash – a lot of the independent stalls only accept cash
– If your making larger purchases, ask the stalls to keep them behind the counter for you (with your name firmly secured on them to ensure they’re not re-sold!) until you’re ready to leave
– Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing
– Bring your own water bottle, and a light snack in your handbag
– Arrive early (and I mean early!) to ensure you bag a good seat for any of the free demonstrations
– Go with a plan of what you want to see, and when & where they’ll be appearing in order to avoid wandering around aimlessly

I really hope the organisers of the Cake and Bake Show will take all of the reviews that are being discussed and blogged about at the moment into consideration in preparation of the next Cake and Bake Show this April Manchester.

So what about you guys?  Did you go to the Cake and Bake Show?  What did you think?

Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours


By now it’s no secret the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is coming up next week.  Over here in the UK we’re in full BBQ and street party planning mode. 

To be honest, I’ve never actually been to a street party before – I guess they’re kind of like the North American block party, although to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever been to one of those either.  I don’t think they’re as popular there as they are here. 
A traditional British Street Party (Image Source)

It’s being reported that there will be over 10,000 official street parties throughout England and Wales, and that’s not counting unofficial parties that haven’t gone through the proper approval process through local councils.
On Sunday I’m hoping to attend one of the larger parties in my area that will take place in our favourite park.  Monday and Tuesday are public holidays here, so the parties and celebrations will continue for a few more days.
In order to help make your street party look it’s best all of the major stores have released their own lines of street party gear including the essentials such as bunting flags, paper plates, cups, napkins, cupcake cases, etc. 
Each of the jubilee product lines are very patriotic and obviously incorporate everything British and royal such as union jacks and crowns, but they’re also very different from each other.
Lakeland was kind enough to send me some products (above) from their Jubilee range, so I’ve featured some of them here with my latest street party inspired creations.

My street party snacks are the perfect addition to your Jubilee table – they’re patriotic, three out of the four are quick and easy, you can make them all ahead of time, they’re all very transportable, and best of all they taste great!!!

I’ve decided to split the recipes for my Jubilee treats into two separate posts, otherwise you’d be reading this post forever!

 

First up I’ll start with my Diamond Jubilee petit fours.  I’ve always wanted to make petit fours so when I was given some cute little London themed sugar decorations in a Waitrose goodie bag, I knew they’d be perfect to add on top.  I used the traditional Victoria Sponge recipe that I came up with last year to celebrate the Royal Wedding, but this time I replaced the strawberry jam with black current jam – something I consider very British as it wasn’t something I’d really ever come across in Canada.

Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours
Ingredients:
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp (200g) Castor Sugar 
3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp (200g) Butter, room temperature 
4 Eggs 
1.5 tsp Vanilla extract 
1.5 Cups + 1.5 Tbsp (200g) Self Raising Flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder

Blackcurrant Jam
Vanilla Buttercream 

Ready to Roll Fondant – I used Renshaw Regal Ice White Chocolate flavour

Liquid Fondant – (I used the Silver Spoon powdered version that you mix with water)

Liquid Glucose – optional
Red and Blue gel colouring

Decorations of your choice – I used Jubilee decorations from Waitrose and a couple of left over crowns I made for my Dome cake here.

Instructions:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).  Line two* square 8″x8″ cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 5-8 minutes).

*I divided my batter up, and made 6 cupcakes for another project and used the rest in a 9″x9″ pan which made 16 petit fours approx 1.5″x1.5″

2.  Add in the eggs 1 at a time to ensure they don’t curdle the butter and sugar mixture.  Beat well before adding each following egg.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

3.  Gently fold the self raising flour and baking powder into the butter, sugar and egg mixture until just combined.  Don’t over mix.  Divide the batter equally between the two pans, making sure that the batter is as flat and even as possible.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

4.  Let the cakes cool in their pans at before lifting them out by the parchment paper. Leave the parchment paper on your cake, and wrap it in cling film before placing it in the freezer for about an hour to firm up slightly.

5.  While your cake is chilling in the freezer make your buttercream icing according to your favourite recipe. (I don’t have a recipe for my buttercream – I just cream a block of butter and keep on adding icing sugar (with a nit of milk and vanilla) until it tastes right.

*The instructions below are for one 9×9 cake (as I mentioned above). If you’ve made two 8×8 cakes, follow the instructions below twice.

6.  Take your cake out of the freezer ensuring that the bottom of the cake is facing upwards (this ensures you’ll have a perfectly flat top) and slice it in half so you end up with two layers.  I used a Wilton cake slicer, but a steady hand and knife should do the trick.  Open your cake so that the freshly cut sides are facing up.  Spread a thin layer of the balckcurrant jam on one half of the cake (remove any large currents), and a layer of buttercream on the other half (make sure it’s as smooth as possible).  



Sandwich the two layers together so the fillings are in the middle, making sure that the edges are aligned.  Next, trim the edges of your cake to ensure it’s perfectly square with nice sharp edges.  Spread another layer of buttercream on the top (which was once the bottom) of your cake, making sure it’s as smooth ad level as possible.

Roll out your fondant so it’s about 3mm in thickness.  Cut a square of fondant out the same size as your cake (you can use the bottom of your cake pan as a guide, and trim the edges later). Place the fondant over your buttercream covered cake top and smooth it out, ensuring you don’t have any trapped air under the fondant.  Trim off any excess fondant so that the edges are flush, and it’s exactly the same size as the cake.

Cut your fondant covered cake into small squares – once trimmed, my 9×9 cake made 16 squares.

7.  Prepare your liquid pouring fondant according to directions on the package – I added in about a teaspoon of glucose to mine to help make it spread easier.  I used Silver Spoon brand which is available in most supermarkets, but you can also buy other bands at speciality cake stores.   One 500g box was just enough to cover my 16 petit fours.

Place a 1/3 of your cake squares on a wire rack that’s been placed over a baking dish.  Start by pouring a tablespoon or two of the uncoloured white fondant on the top of one of your cake squares.  Using an offset pallete knife, spread the fondant to the edges so it starts to flow down the sides of the cake.  Using the back of the knife, scoop out a bit more fondant from the bowl and spread it down each side, starting from the top.  Let the fondant run down the sides until all of the cake is covered.  


Once the cakes are covered, place a sugar decoration in the middle of each one and let the icing dry for at least half an hour.

Ignore the random white one with sprinkles!
Divide the remaining fondant icing in half an colour one half red, and the other blue.  Repeat the steps above for the rest of your cakes.
8.  After the fondant has surface dried, use your palette knife to move each cake onto a paper liner.  You can press the paper onto the fondant to help it form to the shape of the cake.
Leave your petite fours uncovered until they’re thoroughly dry.  I made mine in the evening, and I don’t know what on earth possessed me to cover them in a sealed container but I did, and because my liquid fondant hadn’t dried completely my sugar decorations absorbed some of the moisture which discoloured them.  Obviously I wasn’t thinking clearly!  
These petit fours will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days if they’re properly covered with liquid fondant to prevent them from drying out.



I hope you like these petit fours – I loved them – especially with the addition of the blackcurrant jam!  I can’t wait to make more of them.  Don’t let all the steps detour you, because although they do take a bit of time to make them, the final results are not only pretty, but also delicious!

Check back later for my other Diamond Jubilee street party recipes!

Thanks to Lakeland for the Jubilee products (cake stand, napkins, cupcake cases and jam jar covers are featured), and to Waitrose for the Jubilee sugar decorations.

May Foodie Penpal Reveal

This was my second month as a Foodie Penpal, and I received a great little box of goodies from Fiona of the blog Fee Hates Rain.  I told Fiona how I liked snacky type stuff as well unique things or ingredients that I don’t come across in my regular mainstream supermarket.  Fiona did a great job selecting some unique products – none of which I’ve ever tried or seen before.  


Along with a pretty note card, Fiona sent me some Lap Snacks – these are roasted broad beans coated in a spicy batter, and they are delicious!  They’ve got just a hint of spice in them without being too hot,  They’re great to snack on at my desk – nice and crunchy!

Also included was some Scrummee brand Yorkshire Rhubarb, Lemongrass and Ginger dessert sauce.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds absolutely amazing.  I can’t wait to try it – either in a recipe or on top of some vanilla ice cream.  

Fee also sent a really unique bar of chocolate – Madecasse Pink Pepper and Citrus Chocolate.  The label says it’s 63% cocoa with pink pepper and combava fruit.  I’ve never heard of combava fruit before!  I haven’t tried this yet.  It’s so unique I don’t know what to expect, but I love the fact that she managed to incorporate Pink into it! 

Last but not least, she sent a fancy little packet of Peri-peri chicken spice that I cannot wait to try!  My husband and I both love peri-peri chicken, and I’m saving this for a special meal when we can both sit down together and enjoy it – something we rarely get to do!

A huge thank you again to Fiona for sending me such a great package that was so thoughtfully put together!  

As for myself, my Foodie Penpal was Sarah from the Blog North West Nosh.  Sarah told me that she ate a lot of Eastern foods, and was really into spices like cardamon and cinnamon, as well as rose flavours, and also like snacky stuff too.

Sarah’s package suggestions gave me the perfect opportunity to explore the new Asian market that recently opened up near my office.  It was filled with so many neat products I hadn’t seen before and many that I’d used before, but needed to make a special trip to another store far away to find.


I bought Sarah some Moroccan spiced couscous, rose flavoured Turkish delight, several different types of nougat and 4 different flavours of sesame snaps.  

Waitrose had recently sent me a package filled with a selection of their Jubilee goodies, but I decided to pass some of them along to my Foodie Penpal this month as an extra little bonus because it was so near to the Diamond Jubilee.  I had been sent so much Jubilee product that there was no way I could ever use it all. Hopefully Sarah can have fun with it this weekend.  The Waitrose Jubilee items were: cupcake cases and toppers, 4 different tubes of festive icing and some street party Royal Trivia cards.

If you’re new here and haven’t heard of Foodie Penpals you can check out my first Foodie Penpals post here.


If you’d like to become a Foodie Penpal you can find more information and sign up through the Rock Salt Blog here if you’re in the UK & Europe, or through the Lean Green Bean Blog here is your in the US & Canada.

Foodie Penpals April Reveal

If you follow me on Twitter you may know that some days I’m on there no stop. Just tweeting away about anything and everything.  And then other days I’m not on there at all. With an eight month old and a full time day job, finding time to tweet can be hard!  One of my favourite things about Twitter is that I get to know so many wonderful people – both bloggers and readers that I wouldn’t have ever interacted with otherwise.  

About six weeks ago I came across a tweet from Carol Anne aka @ThisIsRockSalt talking about Foodie Penpals.  I was intrigued…. I’d had a penpal when I was younger and loved writing letters to her, and sending and receiving packages.  It’s always nice to receive packages in the mail rather than the boring bills and junk you normally get.  I immediately tweeted her back, and just like that I had signed up to become a Foodie Penpal.


Let me give you a bit of background info – Foodie Penpals was started last year by American food blogger The Lean Green Bean.  Since then Foodie Penpals has grown from about 30 participants in the US and Canada, to over 600 participants in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe.  Carol Anne from the blog This Is Rock Salt now organises the UK & European side of Foodie Penpals.  So what is a Foodie Penpal you ask??  Well, let me tell you!  Basically, bloggers (and readers if they wish) are matched up together each month.  At the beginning of the month everyone is notified as to who they are matched up with (it’s someone different each month), and then they’re responsible for putting together a little foodie package for them.  How fun!

My first Foodie Penpal package was sent to me by Jules at Good Gobble Blog.  I had never “met” Jules before (ie: in person, twitter, or the general blogosphere), so before she put together my package we sent a few emails back and forth so she could get a feel of what types of things she might want to send me.  I told her that I liked “snacky” type things and things that I could use in my baking.  


Jules put together a fantastic package for me, and I was so excited when it arrived.  The first thing she included were some Caramel Callets from Slattery’s Parissiery and Chocolatier in Manchester.  I first read about Slattery’s on Jule’s blog post here when I had just found out that she would be my foodie penpal. This place looks seriously amazing!  You’ve got to check out the Chocolate Challenge dessert that her friend Doyle ordered!! OMG! Seriously drool worthy.  I have to go to this place when I’m in Manchester.  Actually – I have to go to Manchester just so I can go to this place!   I sampled a few of the Caramel Callets and they are delicious.  I’m still not too sure what I’m going to make with them, but when I do you can be sure to read about it here!

Jules also sent me shortbread mix in a jar.  All I have to do is add butter to the mixture and bake.  Simple!  I had planned on baking the shortbread on Saturday, but I was starting to come down with a cold and couldn’t muster up the energy to even attempt to bake anything. Next weekend!

She also included some sweet plantain chips – something I’d never had before, but were a favourite snack of hers while she travelled through Peru.  She just happened to find them here in the UK!  Jules recommended eating them with a salsa recipe that she included on the back of the package, but my husband and I just snacked on them straight outta the bag.  Yum!


Jules was also kind enough to make some things for me to snack on.  She made individual rocky road bars fully loaded with chocolate and marshmallows and as well as some delicious walnut free granola (I’m allergic to walnuts).  The rocky road bars were absolutely delicious and the fact that they were individually wrapped meant they were the perfect thing to throw in my lunch bag for an afternoon snack at work.  The granola was also just as delicious.  I’ve been munching on it by the handful rather than eating it with milk because I rarely have milk in my fridge unless I’m baking with it.  I haven’t been online much in the past few weeks, so I’ve not really been able to catch up on my blog reading.  I’ve just noticed that Jules has posted the recipes for the rocky road bars and the granola, so if you’d like the recipes please check them out on her blog.  I also must apologise for the complete lack of photos in this post – my camera was on the wrong setting and pretty much all of them turned out blurry except for a few.  **Smacks head!  Doh!**  I did manage to take a picture of a rocky road bar with my iPhone before I gobbled it all up!  You can also see more pictures of the rocky road bars and granola on her blog.


My Foodie Penpal for this month was Helen from Aardvark Cakes.  I have to be honest and say that I was a little intimidated at the fact Helen was my foodie penpal.  After all, she runs her own cake decorating business so she’s bound to either have everything or seen it before.  I had recently made a trip back home to Canada and the US just after I signed up for Foodie Penpals, so I bought a bunch of different things specifically for my future FP’s.  Whenever I go on holiday, and even when I’m shopping here at home I’m always on the lookout for different foodie things that I don’t see every day and can’t buy regularly.  I picked out a few things for Helen that I thought she might like, so hopefully she enjoyed them!  


I sent her a cute box of Lemon Whoopie Pie Mix, some buttery microwave popcorn (one of my favourite snacks from back home – traditionally popcorn here in the UK is either salty or sweet – not buttery), some maple flavouring for cakes and icing, a little packet of powdered cinnamon bun icing flavouring that I came across while in the US, and a Coffee Crisp Easter Egg – coffee crisp is a Canadian chocolate bar that as far as I know isn’t sold outside of Canada.  

Hopefully Helen liked my foodie penpal package as much as I liked the one Jules sent me.  If you’d like to become a foodie penpal you can sign up and find more information about it here if you’re in the UK & Europe, or here is your in the US & Canada.

A Little Slice Of Home

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.


Cheddar Cheese comes from Cheddar – a village in Somerset, England
The Cornish Pasty (one of the UK’s favourite snacks) comes from Cornwall – a region of South West England
Jersey Milk/Cream comes from Jersey cows that are raised on the island of Jersey off the coast of England
Yorkshire Puddings comes from Yorkshire – a county in Northern England
Worcestershire Sauce comes from the city of Worcester in the West Midlands of England
But English cities aren’t the only ones with famous foods named after them. There’s plenty more from around the world:
Champagne comes from the Champagne region in France
Buffalo Wings come from Buffalo NY
Philly Cheese Steak comes from Philadelphia Pennsylvania 
Hamburgers come from Hamburg Germany
Brussels Sprouts come from Brussels Belgium
There are loads of foods named after cities around the wold, but I haven’t come across many that are named after Canadian cities. When I was younger I remember seeing Winnipeg Cream Cheese in the stores, but haven’t seen it in years. Now it’s just Philly. We’ve got Montreal Steak seasoning, but I think we only call it that in Canada. Then there’s Canadian bacon, but it’s only called that in the US. I have no idea why they decided to deviate away from the word ham, but in Canada it’s just called back bacon or ham. Yeah, I’m pretty sure ham was around well before Canada was. 
BUT there is one food that I can be certain of that originated in Canada, and it shares the name of the city it was founded in. The Nanaimo Bar! Nanaimo bars were invented by a local women in the 1950’s for a baking competition. Their popularity quickly spread across Canada because they’re so simple to make and they don’t require any baking. 
As we’re approaching the Christmas baking season, I had a think back to the Christmas treats my mom used to make. Nanaimo bars were always on the dessert table at my parents Christmas parties, as well as a few other goodies I’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. Nanaimo bars used to be a Canadian secret, but then they started to make their way down south into the US and different variations of the recipe started to emerge. And now with the introduction of the internet they’ve been making their way around the world through recipe sites and bogs like mine. So perhaps you’ve already come across these little bars before, and if you haven’t you should definitely give them a try. They’re simple, and they’re delicious!

Nanaimo Bars
Base Layer
½ cup (114g) Butter, softened
2 Eggs
½ cup (113g) Sugar
2 cups (265g) Graham Cracker or Digestive Crumbs

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.

Custard Icing

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.

Chocolate Layer

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!