I have a lot recipe books in my flat. A LOT! I have bookshelves full of them in my spare room, I have shelves being weighed down in my living room by them, I have piles of them on various tables around my flat. I even have a pile of Delicious and Olive Magazines that counts as a table on which I have a lamp! My lovely cookbooks have been keeping me company recently as I had an operation on my fractured ankle last week and haven’t been able to walk, so I have been on my sofa with my leg elevated and my cookbooks around me.
One of my new favourites is Annie Bell’s Baking Bible. I’ve tried a lot of her recipes and they’ve all turned out very well. Whilst I was flicking through it at the weekend, I noticed a recipe for Nanaimo Bars. I haven’t heard of these before but apparently they’re very popular in Canada, named after the west coast city of Nanaimo in British Columbia. They have a chocolatey, biscuity base with coconut and walnuts, a layer of sweet custard buttercream and then a layer of chocolate which together is a very moreish treat indeed, and seems to improve in flavour after a couple of days.
You need a 23cm square baking tin, 4cm deep for this recipe. Luckily, I have this multisize baking tin from Lakeland. Its fab because you can make it into any size you want and it folds away flat when you’re not using it.
150g/5.3oz unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for buttering your tin)
100g/3.5oz digestive biscuits, broken into pieces
60g/2oz walnut pieces
40g/1.4oz cocoa powder, sifted
100g/3.5oz golden caster sugar
80g/2.8oz desiccated coconut
2 medium eggs, beaten
100g/3.5oz unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp custard powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g/8.8oz icing/confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
150g/5.3oz dark chocolate about 70 per cent cocoa
25g/1oz unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F)/160°C (320°F) fan/gas 4. Butter a 23cm square x 4cm deep cake tin or brownie tin (or equivalent traybake tin, for example, 25cm x 20cm).
Whiz the digestives and the walnuts to crumbs in a food processor. Add the cocoa and sugar and whiz again, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Mix in the coconut. Stir in the melted butter, then add the beaten eggs, stirring until combined.
Transfer the mixture to the tin and level the surface. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Then onto the buttercream filling…using an electric whisk, whisk the butter in a large bowl for about a minute until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the custard powder and the vanilla, and then the icing sugar.
Once the mixture appears crumbly, add the milk and continue to whisk until you have a pale, moussey filling. Spread this over the biscuit base using a palette knife and chill for about an hour until set.
For the top layer, break up the chocolate and gently melt it with the butter in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to chill slightly, then smooth the chocolate mixture over the custard cream.
Loosely cover the tin with clingfilm and chill for a few hours until set. Then cut into whatever size you want. I cut the block into 21 slices.
These bars taste really good. The mix of the coconut, the chocolate and the sweet custard buttercream works really well. They keep well for several days and are best served chilled. I found that they were tastier after a couple of days in the fridge.