Thursday, December 18, 2008

Apparently I've Made the Source of All Evil

Remember when I made my list of “things to do before Christmas”? Yes, I keep referring to it. Well, one of the things was to determine what baking to do this year.

I made the gingerbread men, I’ll likely make cheese cake for Christmas dinner (because that’s what we do) and I think I want to try a bread pudding. We went to a restaurant once, a while ago, and had an AMAZING bread pudding with a whisky cream sauce that knocked our socks off. The food itself wasn’t much to write home about, but this dessert? One of the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Ever. I think I drooled just thinking about it. Mmmmmm….

Huh, where was I? Oh yeah! Holiday baking! When my Mum is here next week we’re going to make butter tarts . It’s not Christmas for us unless we have butter tarts. This year, we’re going to make mini ones for our Christmas Eve finger food extravaganza. When I asked Hubster if he wanted me to make anything in particular, he said right away: Nanaimo bars. These embody Christmas for him, and really, I don’t know too many Canadian holiday celebrations that don’t include a pan of these bars.

What are Nanaimo bars? What? You don’t KNOW? Oy.

See the link above for the long history of these bars. Here is the short version: The base is a mix of butter, cocoa, nuts, sugar and coconut. The filling is almost a custard, with 100% more butter – it’s made of icing sugar, cream, butter, and custard powder (almost impossible to get here in the States) or vanilla pudding mix. The topping is chocolate, and you guessed it, more butter. I guess we Canadians like a lot ‘o butter in our holiday treats.

You don’t bake this bar at all, it’s done in layers that are refrigerated. The top gets hard, the filing stays creamy and the base is nice and chewy. It really is a neat dessert; but rich. How could it not be with almost a pound of butter in it?

I made these 2 years ago and I wasn’t really thrilled with how they turned out. The recipe I used was way too sweet and the filling seemed gritty. I searched through a few and found this gem of a web site:

I used their recipe and the bars turned out really well. (Note: if you use this recipe – it doesn’t tell you the exact weight of chocolate to use for the topping – after consulting some other recipes, I used 4 ounces. It worked really well). I liked that the egg in the base got cooked a bit in the microwave, so I didn't have to worry about RAW eggs in food I'd serve to children or have to go through the hassle of finding egg powder.

I enjoyed reading through some of their recipes and will definitely go back there again.

ANYWAY… since these bars are so rich we do not need a whole pan of them in our house, I plan to pass some onto the neighbours and Hubster took some into work to share with his co-workers. He offered them up and within minutes received a call from a friend that just said “These are the source of all evil. Wow. Can I have the recipe?”.

Here is the recipe:

So go ahead and whip up a batch of these babies, eat them until you’re sick and give the rest away. It’s a Canadian tradition.

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