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These are better than any store-bought, all amounts may be doubled for a 13x9-inch pan --- if you don't have custard powder on hand then use instant vanilla pudding powder instead, you may have to adjust the amount according to the texture desired, start out with 2 tablespoons adding more to achieve desired texture, I have to say that these bars are better both in taste and appearence if made with the custard powder and you will easily find it in the baking section near the pudding mixes of any grocery store, what you do not use will keep well covered tightly in the fridge so I advise to purchase the custard powder! --- and for easier slicing chill the bars just slightly then remove from fridge when just partially hard then run a sharp knife through the bars to slice into desired sizes then return to fridge to finish chilling, this will make slicing the bars easier when they harden --- different flavored extracts and food colouring may be used to create different flavors, such as mint extract and a drop of green food colouring, also these freeze very well! :)
- 1⁄2 cup butter, softened (use butter only!)
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 3⁄4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped almonds
- 1 cup coconut, finely chopped (don't use the long shredded kind, if you do then chop it on the processor until finely chopped)
- 1⁄2 cup butter (preferably unsalted)
- 8 teaspoons half-and-half cream (must use half and half cream for this!)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (or more to achieve desired consistancy and taste)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream (optional)
- For bottom layer: In a double boiler, or on the stove element (on low heat) melt the first 3 ingredients, remove from heat; add in the egg, stir to combine and thicken. Stir in cracker crumbs, coconut and chopped nuts.
- For microwave method; melt the butter with sugar in microwave until the butter is completely melted, removing one time to stir (you do not have to cook until very hot) mix in cocoa powder until well combined, then vigorously whisk in eggs until combined, then stir in remaining ingredients (the mixture will be thick so I always mix with my hands).
- Press firmly into prepared ungreased 8 x 8-inch square pan.
- For the middle layer: cream butter, half and half, custard powder and icing sugar; beat until light and creamy.
- Spread over the bottom layer; refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
- For the topping: In the microwave, or on top of the stove, on low heat, melt the chocolate squares with the 4 Tbsp butter; stirring to combine adding in the whipping cream for a more creamier texture if desired.
- Pour evenly over the middle creamy layer (smooth out with a spoon to even out if necessary).
- Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting.
Hands down, the best recipe for Nanaimo bars I have tried. I quit making them for a while and just got store bought (not the same!!) because inevitably, the bottom layer would crumble apart, the layers wouldn't stick together, or the chocolate on top would crack when cutting them. I used finely chopped pecans in the crust and they worked great - having the coconut very fine is the key. Also, do put the whipping cream in the chocolate topping. That is what made these bars extremely easy to cut - just refrigerate for an hour, and cut into squares - no cracking of the chocolate with the cream in there. I clean my knife between each cut to keep the layers looking clean.
Love these bars! This is the second time I've made them. The first time was as written. This time, I didn't have custard powder on hand, so I looked it up and discovered that it's basically just corn starch, vanilla flavoring, and food coloring. So I went with the standard substitution and used 2 tbsp. corn starch plus vanilla extract (I used 1/2 tsp.). Sets up nicely, and I couldn't tell a difference from the first time I'd made them with the custard powder. I also replaced the butter in the top chocolate layer with an equal amount of coconut oil (BTW, chocolate plus coconut oil = homemade Magic Shell!). One more substitution since I didn't have almonds: finely chopped macadamia nuts (unsalted). They were awesome!
These are wonderful bars, I made them for a dinner party I was having. We devoured them. They are heavenly!!