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Entries in recipes (661)

Monday
Apr112011

So Corny: Easter Candy Corn Recipe for Serious Eats

It's time to let you in on a little secret: Easter Corn is the same thing as Candy Corn, but colored differently. And like Candy Corn, it tastes better when made at home.

Of course, you can make the most of this festive treat by coloring it creatively. Instead of tricolors, why not go for five stripes of pastel sweetness? And, going even further, why not serve it in overturned baby-food jars to form the cutest enchanted forest-style terrarium treats you've ever seen? With all that magic, you might just give the Easter Bunny a run for its money.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Friday
Apr082011

Get Dirty: Dirt Cake Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Sabrina

Have you ever heard of "Dirt Cake"? Well, neither had I, sweet friends, but Cake Gumshoe Sabrina was kind enough to share after I had what can only be described as a "Facebook freakout" after seeing her post pictures of this masterpiece online.

Here's the 411, from Sabrina:

According to your comment, I'm assuming you have never had the yumminess that is 'DIRT CAKE!' It is quite simple to make and makes for a happy tummy.

Dirt Cake

 

  • 1 regular-sized package of Oreos (or store brand)
  • 1 box of instant chocolate Jello pudding mix (the no-cook version)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/2 or 1 tub of whipped topping 
  • 1 package of gummi worms

Procedure

  1. Step 1: Crush your Oreos! I place cookies in a large ziploc bag, gently use a rubber mallet to break them down to smaller pieces/crumbs. HINT: You could also use a blender if you've got one handy, it's a lot faster. If you use one, break up the cookies a little bit beforehand to help w/ the process.
  2. Step 2: Make some mud. Prepare the package of pudding mix by combining 3 cups of milk and blending thoroughly. Add 1/2 to a full tub of thawed whipped topping (as found in the freezer section) and mix well.
  3. Step 3: Build! In a deep bowl, clear flower pot or several individual bowls, add a layer of crushed Oreos (aka dirt) then spoon a layer of your mud pudding, follow with another layer of dirt and repeat until you're out of both. I usually end up with 3 layers of cookie crumbs and 2 layers of pudding.  HINT: As you build your layers, feel free to drop a few gummi worms in!
  4. Step 4: Garish. Add gummi worms to the top of the 'cake' and refrigerate for several hours.  HINT: If you happen to have a sprig of fake flowers laying around, clean the plastic stem and stick it into the dirt cake. Sometimes the flowers can be too heavy or lopsided so this won't always work...but it definitely adds to the effect! 
Enjoy!

 

Monday
Apr042011

Sweet Fusion: Easter Candy Choco Taco Plate Recipe for Serious Eats

It's true, I am a genius.What happens when you combine Easter Candy with a Choco Taco?

Nothing good, that's what. Instead, you have something great. This Easter-themed "taco plate" is fusion at its best, with sweet "tacos" filled with ice cream and all manner of pastel sweets, topped with green-tinted shredded coconut which simultaneously mimics Easter basket grass and shredded lettuce. Bonus points if you serve it up with a side of "rice and beans"—rice pudding studded with jelly beans, of course.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Sunday
Apr032011

Sweet Spot: Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies Recipe by Cake Gumshoe Christine

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Christine Mullen, a photographer and food blogger from Ottawa, Ontario. She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and photographing the results but ultimately hates doing the dishes. She blogs at Munchin With Munchkin.

I have the biggest weak spot for chocolate covered raisins. Every time I bite into one it brings me back to my earliest childhood memory.

I remember the specific moment I was hooked for life. It was December of 1989. My mother was on Christmas holidays and she decided to take me to see my first movie. We drove to Britannia which had both an indoor theatre and a drive in.

When we entered the theatre I was mesmerized by the speckled carpet, the sparkling ceiling and the overwhelming smell of popcorn. As we stood in line my eyes focused on a glass display case at the front
counter filled with colourful boxes of candy.

When we finally got to the front of the line my mother purchased our tickets and asked me if I wanted a treat. In my 3 years of life I rarely had candy so I knew this was a special occasion. As I peered through the glass my options were overwhelming. Without the ability to read my decision was determined solely by the colour of the box. I came to the conclusion that the purple box would contain the best treat and mother happily agreed.

With large purple box in hand we walked to our theatre and chose seats
close to the front. My memories of the movie are vague but I remember
sharing that box of raisinets and thinking my mother was the coolest
person in the whole world.

My mother is coming to visit me this week so in preparation I made these oatmeal raisinet cookies to share with her. They are incredibly soft and chewy and the chocolate covered raisins add that taste of childhood every great cookie should have.

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

Makes about two dozen cookies

 

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tsp. baking soda
  • ½  Tsp. salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate covered raisins

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
  4. Stir in the baking soda, salt, and flour and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Briefly mix in the oats. Add the chocolate covered raisins and stir until just combined.
  5. Scoop 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto un-greased cookie sheets about half an inch apart.
  6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the cookies are golden brown along the edges.

 

Thursday
Mar312011

Feeling Toasty: Coconut French Toast With Bananas Foster Recipe from Joe Yonan

What happens when coconut, French Toast, and Bananas Foster make sweet love?

Well, find out for yourself (pervert!)--check out Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan. He was kind enough to share the following recipe from the new release:

Coconut French Toast with Bananas Foster

  • 3 tablespoons pecan halves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 thick (3/4- to 1-inch) slice rich white bread, such as brioche or challah, trimmed neatly into a round or square (crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup Japanese-style panko
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut flakes (medium shred)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 banana, peeled and diagonally sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
Procedure
  1. Toast the pecans in a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan frequently, until they start to turn dark brown and smell very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool.
  2. Whisk the egg, coconut milk, and vanilla extract together in a shallow bowl. Add the bread; let it stand for about 10 minutes, turning it over about halfway through, until it has absorbed most of the liquid.
  3. Combine the panko crumbs, coconut, and granulated sugar on a plate. Use a spatula to transfer the soaked bread to the crumb mixture, and turn to coat both sides evenly. Pat as much of the mixture as you can onto the bread.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat in a small skillet. Add the bread and cook until it is golden brown and crusted, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn it over and cook another few minutes, until it is golden brown on the second side. (Reduce the temperature as needed to keep the bread from getting too dark.) Transfer to a plate. The inside of the French toast will be fairly spongy.
  5. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the brown sugar and stir until it melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the banana slices and stir until they are warmed through and coated with the butter in the pan, 1 minute. Add the pecans and rum, and stir to combine.
  6. Spoon the warmed banana mixture over the French toast, and eat.

Note: Some brands of coconut milk, such as Chaokoh from Thailand, are available in 5.6-ounce cans rather than the standard 13.5 to 14 ounces. Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze in ice-cube trays and then store the cubes in freezer-safe heavy-duty plastic bags for several months.

Reprinted with permission from Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Wednesday
Mar302011

Maple Madness: Vermont Maple Cookies Recipe for Serious Eats

When it comes to baking with maple, Grade C (or sometimes Grade B; see note, below) is anything but average.

It's is the deepest, darkest, most assertively maple-flavored grade of syrup you can get; while it can be a bit strong for, say, topping your pancakes (that's Grade A territory), the higher-octane stuff lends a rich, almost caramel-like maple flavor to baked goods. These simple drop cookies, adapted from a recipe I discovered in a vintage Vermont baking pamphlet at the Maple Museum of New England, are an ideal recipe to let the maple flavor shine.

They're great on their own, or if you want to double your pleasure, sandwich two with a smear of buttercream.

Note: As I learned on this website, Grade C Maple Syrup is no longer used by USDA. Grade C Maple Syrup is now designated USDA Grade B Maple Syrup. However, while in Vermont last week, I still saw a lot of maple labeled Grade C. If you can't locate Grade C maple syrup, simply choose the darkest Grade B variety you can find.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Sweet and Salty: Closeup on the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars Recipe

 

CakeSpy Note: by popular request, here's an individual post, all on its own (originally part of this massive Nanaimo Bar oeuvre), for the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars. Um, plus I thought it would make for a great entry in the Denny's / Foodbuzz Baconalia challenge for a chance to win! Enjoy!

Inspired by two other Canadian specialties, these bars were made with a "blonde" (sans cocoa) bottom layer, topped with a maple-infused buttercream center, all of which was topped off with a thick layer of white chocolate sprinkled with brown sugar and Canadian bacon baked until crispy with a maple glaze.

Makes 24-36 bars, depending on how hungry you are

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder or vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Top Layer
  • 3-4 slices canadian bacon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 Procedure

  1. Melt the butter and sugar in the top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, sugar, and syrup together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as smooth and flat as possible. 
  3. Prepare the bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet with parchment. Place the canadian bacon slices on top of the parchment, and drizzle with the maple syrup. Place in the oven until it is very crispy, turning after about 5 minutes. For me, the slices were fairly thin so it only took about 10 minutes total to get them very, very crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the topping.
  4. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the white chocolate, and then crumble the bacon on top, making sure to get even coverage. 
Tuesday
Mar292011

Pie Slam Profiles: Blueberry Pie by Wendy Johnson

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry is for Blueberry pie, by Wendy Johnson. Here's her story, followed by her recipe.

Pie : a (true) love story

Did Grandma Radi make pies?  I asked.

No, that’s the one thing she couldn’t cook.  They came out tough.

And Grandma Johnson?

No, she couldn’t really cook anything.

Well, how did you start making pie?

I just taught myself, the first pie I made was when we were first married, maybe just a week. That was the best pie I ever made, I could never get them to turn out as good.

What kind was it?

Lemon meringue.

Mom was red-eyed, staring out the passenger window as we drove through the stultifying Texas landscape of oil wells, pawn shops and used car dealerships.

She would silently work a crossword for awhile, or concentrate on her knitting, and then suddenly start in about how they met, about the awful yellow sweater he was wearing when his friends came up to her friends after a Sweet Home High School Basketball game.

Or about how he courted her in his father’s 1960 dark blue Buick LeSabre convertible with the white ragtop. Ray Charles would’ve been singing “I can’t stop loving you.” They’d put the top down, blast the heat and cruise around Buffalo, New York in the chilly spring of 1962.

As we neared Birmingham Alabama, she told me without malice of how dad’s parents had offered him money to prevent the marriage of their son to the daughter of Italian immigrants. Of how my Grandmother, on her death bed, had said to my mom, “I was pretty hard on you wasn’t I? I’m sorry for that.”

The Lemon Meringue was the first tradition that they alone owned. Not from his family or hers. My mother created pie for my father. Over the years they shared, almost 50, she honed her skill, her deft first generation hands turning flour and butter and fruit and sugar into expertly sculpted deliciousness, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, between lightness and substance.

And what about the last pie, do you remember what it was?

It must’ve been blueberry. Your father loved blueberry.

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Pie

For the Butter Pastry:

  • 2 cups all purpose unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cups unsalted butter (or 2/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup leaf lard.) 
  • 1/3 cup cold water (may add 1-2 tsp cider or white vinegar.) 

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups Blueberries and 3 cups Wild Blueberries 
  • ½-1 cup light brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • The juice of one fresh-squeezed lemon
  • Nutmeg (1/4 tsp), Cinnamon (2 tsp), Cardamom (1/4 tsp), Ground cloves (1/4 tsp) and ground ginger (1 tsp.) (add spices to taste)

 Procedure 

  1. Put everything in the refrigerator for an hour or so before making the pastry (the mixing bowl, the water, the lard, the butter).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl and work with a pastry cutter until the butter chunks are the size of peas. You should still be able to see small pieces of butter. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and use your hands to flatten some of the bits of fat into flakey pieces. Add the water all at once and gather the jumble together without really stirring or kneading, just until the mixture comes together to form a shaggy mass. Without handling the dough any more than necessary, divide in half and press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate it while preparing the berries.
  2. Wash fresh berries, or use frozen.  Put all berries in bowl and toss with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and spices.  Add more sugar or spices to taste, but be careful not to over sweeten.
  3. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of the pastry into a 12-inch circle onto floured parchment paper.  Lift the parchment paper and place dough-side down into a buttered 10-inch pie pan. Press the pastry into place and pour in the berry mix. Roll the second disk of dough into a 12-inch circle and plant it squarely on top of the filling. Crimp the edges together to create a seal, then trim off an excess dough. Pierce the top crust with a fork or knife to vent juices. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is boiling out of the crust a bit, about 1 hour. Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.

(Pastry recipe adapted from: Greg Atkinson, Copyright 2007)

Tuesday
Mar292011

Peanut Buttery Goodness: Chocolate Pasta with Peanut Butter Sauce Recipe for Peanut Butter and Co

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you still eating regular pasta, like a jerk?

Time to get with the program: I’m talking chocolate pasta. It’s readily available online, and it’s well worth the investment.

But even an inherently perfect product like this can stand to become slightly awesomer, and so I propose Chocolate Pasta served with peanut butter cookie “meatballs” and a rich, crunchy peanut butter buttercream sauce. It may not be pretty, but it tastes like heaven on a plate. In fact, the only thing that might make it better is a thick slice of buttered pound cake on the side.

Lastly, this makes a swell April Fools’ dessert for someone or some people you love to have fun with

For the full entry and recipe, visit Peanut Butter and Co.!

Sunday
Mar272011

Foodbuzz 24x24: Nanaimo Bar Extravaganza

It is with a heavy heart full of sadness that I realize that many of you have never even heard of--much less tasted--the wonderful thing that is the Nanaimo Bar.

But it is with the lightness and joy of 99 luftballoons floating in the summer sky that I realize that I am going to show you the light, in the most delicious way possible.

That's right. It's time for an absolute education and delicious extravaganza featuring the Nanaimo Bar. This post is my entry for the Foodbuzz 24x24 project, and it's broken down into three parts: History (wherein you will get educated on the ways of the Nanaimo), Recipes (I made 7 different versions!), and Testimonials (loving thoughts and odes from eager eaters).

You say Nanaimo...
First things first. It's pronounced "Nuh-nye-moe". And it's named after the city where, if not officially where the bar was invented, the city where it came into its own. But don't worry, I'll tell you much, much more.
As previously mentioned, I realize that it is possible that you have never tried--or even heard of--the Nanaimo Bar, which I lovingly refer to as “the best thing Canada has ever invented”.  Let me briefly try to explain its wonder of this three-layer no-bake bar cookie, building it from the bottom up:

The bottom layer is a sturdy, tightly packed layer of chocolate, graham cracker and coconut, bound together with melted butter.
The middle layer is a buttery, frosting-y, creamy, custard-y stuff that is so much the opposite of low-fat that it makes you want to weep with pleasure.
The top layer is a solid chocolatey layer, which is firm but not hard.

As you may have come to suspect, each layer is tasty enough to stand on its own--but when combined, you’ve basically got a triple threat of intensely rich, decadently condensed deliciousness.

That is to say--super yum.

But where did this bar come from? There’s a popular story about how the bars were the winner in a baking contest, invented by a housewife who named them Nanaimo Bars in a burst of civic pride. While said housewife does figure into the equation (see below), it’s definitely not the whole story.

There are several purported predecessors of the bar going by “New York Slice”, “Chocolate Slice”, “Refrigerator Cake”, “Miracle Bars”, “Ribbon Bars”, “Smog Bars” (or “London Smog Bars”). 

It’s those Smog Bars, though, that seem to be the closest relative to the Nanaimo Bar, as evidenced by an interview with Jan Pare, who wrote Company's Coming: 150 Delicious Squares, who spent her formative years (1927-47) in Alberta, Canada:

"Nanaimo Bars were originally called Smog bars, and everybody made them: graham-cracker crust, cocoa, Bird's Custard in the filling. My Grandma Locke made smog bars, so did my mother."

Proof is in the pudding--or rather, custard: Bird’s Custard, a popular custard powder invented in the UK and a key ingredient in Nanaimo bars, easily could have immigrated to the area in the early 1900s when there was a large wave of new immigration from Europe; this would have been well-timed with the advent of iceboxes as a common household item in Canada, which would explain for the bar’s UK influence but Canadian birth.

In fact, the first published instance of the phrase Nanaimo Bars dates back to 1953, in the Vancouver Sun, but the recipe itself is for London Smog Bars, with a footnote that “These are also known as Nanaimo Bars”.

It doesn’t seem too far-fetched then, to conjecture that this confection, like those European settlers, migrated westward; a recipe that resembles the Nanaimo bar in basically all but name, entitled “Chocolate Slices”, was submitted by a Mrs. E. MacDougall in 1952 Women’s Auxiliary Cookbook.

But regardless of how they got there, one thing is for certain: even if they weren’t invented in Nanaimo, it is where the treat took root. And it’s here that the humble housewife mentioned earlier shows her important role: Mrs. Mabel Jenkins of Cowichan Bay submitted her recipe for the bars to the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook, which was sold in the early 1950s in the region as a fundraiser. It was a popular favorite in the book, and because the bars are ridiculously delicious and keep well, the recipe gained popularity in the province's households and working-class towns, and was sold in many of the coffee shops on Nanaimo’s Commercial Street.

In more recent years, the bars have been called “Canada’s Favourite Confection”, and all I can say is, Butter Tarts never stood a chance.

Part 2: The Recipes

How did I do it? I made a variety of different types, starting with the traditional recipe, then creating several riffs on it (many inspired by other Canadian specialties!). I then got testimonials and stories from the eaters (scroll to below the recipes for those), who ranged from professional Nanaimo Bar eaters to first timers. Some were even Canadian.

Recipe 1: OFFICIAL NANAIMO BAR RECIPE

Bottom Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (Cake Gumshoe Kate adds that if you don't have or can't find custard powder, instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
  • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
---------------------------------

Recipe 2: Maple Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (the darkest you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Serve lightly chilled, or let come to room temperature. When you're ready to serve, use a sharp knife to slice the bars, and keep a towel on hand to clean the knife frequently between cuts to ensure clean, good-looking bars which showcase the pretty layers.

----------------------------------------

Recipe 3: Blonde Nanaimo Bars

These have a white chocolate topping and a mix of cocoa and brown sugar in the base, making for maybe more of a dirty-blonde, but a very delicious variation.

Bottom Layer 

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

 Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

 Top Layer

  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter and sugar in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Make the topping. Melt the white chocolate either in 20 second intervals or over low heat until it is smooth and creamy. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. 

 ------------------------------------------------

Recipe 4: Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars

Inspired by two other Canadian specialties, these bars were made with a "blonde" (sans cocoa) bottom layer, topped with a maple-infused buttercream center, all of which was topped off with a thick layer of white chocolate sprinkled with brown sugar and Canadian bacon baked until crispy with a maple glaze.

Bottom Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder or vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Top Layer
  • 3-4 slices canadian bacon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 Procedure

  1. Melt the butter and sugar in the top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, sugar, and syrup together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as smooth and flat as possible. 
  3. Prepare the bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet with parchment. Place the canadian bacon slices on top of the parchment, and drizzle with the maple syrup. Place in the oven until it is very crispy, turning after about 5 minutes. For me, the slices were fairly thin so it only took about 10 minutes total to get them very, very crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the topping.
  4. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the white chocolate, and then crumble the bacon on top, making sure to get even coverage. 

-----------------------

Recipe 5: Butter Tart Nanaimo Bars

For these babies, combined the regular Nanaimo bar crust recipe with that of Butter Tart filling. I omitted the raisins - not my style.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs, very fine
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (the darkest you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter and sugar in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan; bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Serve lightly chilled, or let come to room temperature. When you're ready to serve, use a sharp knife to slice the bars, and keep a towel on hand to clean the knife frequently between cuts to ensure clean, good-looking bars which showcase the pretty layers.
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Recipe 6: Nougabricot Nanaimo Bars

What is Nougabricot? It's a Québécois preserve consisting of apricots, almonds, and pistachios, that's what. Here's a Nanaimo bar made with a white chocolate topping studded with apricot, almond, and pistachio, inspired by this specialty.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • About 3/4 cup of a mix of almond bits, dried apricots, and pistachios (make the mixture to the proportions of your liking)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can. Directly after adding the topping, scatter the fruit and nut mixture on top to ensure that it sticks to the still-tacky white chocolate. Let set before serving.
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Recipe 7: Poutine Nanaimo Bars

So, I thought to myself, "what if I used a Nanaimo bar as the base for a batch of Poutine?". Poutine, of course, being that famous Eastern Canadian dish consisting of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (in NJ, where I grew up, we had a decidedly less pinkies-out version consisting of Cheez Whiz and gravy on fries, known as "disco fries"). Guess what? Not delicious. But pretty fun to make.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 1 cup cheese curds ( had fairly big ones, which I warmed and kind of squished into place, which gave them a sort of ricotta cheese look)
  • 1/2 cup gravy

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Place the cheese curds on top of the Nanaimo Bars. Let come to room temperature before serving; ladle a little gravy on each slice before serving.

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Part 3: Nanaimo bar Testimonials 

To get a variety of reactions on La Belle Nanaimo, I took it to the street--literally.

First, I took a batch to the Seattle waterfront, set myself up nearby the ferry to Canada and swapped treats for tales, asking eaters "What's the best thing about a Nanaimo Bar?".

Most people were quite receptive to swapping treats for short tales, and after about 20 minutes my batch was gone. Some remembered the bars as a childhood treat; some recalled them from ferry rides; one person said that the best ones are found at the grocery store baker's case; and for some people, this was their first-ever Nanaimo bar experience (I'm so glad I got to share it with them).

My favorite response, as it happens, was from a homeless guy who asked if he could have one. After taking a thoughtful bite, he told me that these were much better than "the package cookies". This made me feel sort of like laughing, and sort of like crying, all at once.

Next, I brought a big batch to the Bake it in a Cake Cupcake party at CakeSpy shop, where I got some real-live testimonials on the bars.

Mr. Spy expands on what is so great about a Nanaimo Bar, including how it is better than Rick Moranis:

A couple of other store visitors, upon tasting the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars and the Blonde Nanaimo Bars, respectively (both were first-time Nanaimo bar eaters!) had this to say:

...and yet more eaters had this to say:

 

...but  I will tell you the truth, after one bite of the poutine version, it became very clear that this probably is not a food trend that will take off, so I didn't serve those. 

All in all, people loved learning about and devouring these delicious bars, and I feel as if I have done my job to spread the word about this sweet Canadian treat. So...til next time...

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