Friday, October 1, 2010

My Mom's Nanaimo Squares

My Mom used to make Nanaimo Squares when I was a child. She made other desserts too, but her Nanaimo Squares were the absolute best. 'Sweet' doesn't even begin to describe these delectable little wonders. They start with a crumb base, followed by a layer of light custard buttercream, topped with a smooth glossy layer of semi sweet chocolate. Best of all, you don't have to bake them. 

A true Canadian original, Nanaimo, B.C. claim these squares as their own, when Mabel Jenkins submitted her original recipe in the 1950's for a local fundraising cookbook. More recently however, a contest was held in 1986, inititated by the Mayor of Nanaimo, to find the ultimate recipe, and Joyce Hardcastle was the winner. They're famous for a good reason — they're just plain delicious. There are all sorts of recipes out there which add peanut butter or peppermint, but my Mom's are the best!

Mom's Nanaimo Squares

Bottom Layer

½ cup unsalted butter 

5 tbsp white sugar

5 tbsp cocoa

1 egg beaten
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugar together, then add beaten egg and mix (or if you don't like to use raw egg — melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler, then add the raw egg, stirring to cook and thicken, then remove from heat). Continue by stirring in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 9" x 9" pan. My Mom uses a glass pyrex dish, which I think works better.

Middle Layer
½ cup unsalted butter

3½ tbsp vanilla custard powder

3 tbsp milk
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter. Combine custard powder with milk and add to butter. Mix in icing sugar. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer and refrigerate until firm.

Icing Layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer spreading evenly. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares, serve and enjoy.