Culinary Sleuth

Nanaimo Bars


by Lynn Kerrigan


I was first introduced to these "can't have just one belly busting treats" in 1978 while residing in the city of Quebec. My American friends and I would get together when our husbands were on the road and cook up some good conversation along with different cakes, candies and anything else sweet that would temporarily soothe our loneliness. I can now say with complete authority that these sweets are a perfect antidote to what ails you. If you haven't tried them and have a sweet tooth, you'll be hooked.

Nanaimo bars, a no-bake 3-layer chocolate covered bar are a traditional Canadian dessert, though nobody is certain where the tradition came from. Laura Secord, a Canadian candy company, published a cook book that says this about the origin of these fattening delicacies: "A version of these no-bake bars developed in the Canadian kitchens of a well-known food company, was christened by them "Nanaimo bars" after the city of that name on Vancouver Island. The city of Nanaimo (from sne-ny-mo, a local Indian term for a loose confederation of five bands) started as a Hudson Bay Trading Post in 1849."




Creamy Center:

Chocolate Topping:

Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. In a sauce pan combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, egg, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until smooth and slightly thickened. Stir in the remaining crust ingredients and press into prepared pan. Make the creamy center: cream the butter and gradually beat in icing sugar and egg. Spread over crumb mixture and chill for about 15 minutes.

Make the chocolate topping: melt the chocolate and butter together over hot water or in a microwave, being careful not to burn. Spread on top of the previous part. Chill until set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

*Icing sugar is the name Canadian's use for confectioner's sugar.


Nanaimo-Bars II

This recipe comes from a page in an obscure, no longer published magazine called Canadian Homemaker.

Ingredients for 2 dozen bars:

Mix the 1/2 cup butter, white sugar, egg and cocoa. Set over boiling water and stir until mixture resembles a custard.

Combine crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Combine with the butter/sugar mixture, blending well. Spread and press tightly into a 9x9 inch pan.

Cream the 1/4 cup butter, milk, pudding mix and confectioner's sugar. Spread over mixture in pan. Melt the chocolate over hot water; add butter and blend well. Spread over the icing. Let set. Chill and keep refrigerated.

Try substituting cream cheese in place of butter for the creamy center for a different (just as decadent) bar.


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The baker image provided by ©1996 Alma Shon.


Text Copyright 1996 Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.

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