The Winter Olympics begin this Friday in one of our favorite cities: Vancouver, B.C. (See our food-lover's guide to Vancouver here!) In honor of the Olympics, we're bringing you a famous regional recipe: Nanaimo Bars. We've given you a recipe for this treat before, but this one has some significant differences that makes it a little easier to replicate in your own kitchen.
This recipe comes courtesy of Ann Clark, a cookie cutter manufacturer in Vermont. They created a cookie cutter in the shape of Olympics rings, and what better use for this cutter than Nanaimo bars?
This recipe also dispenses with Bird's Custard Powder, which is an ingredient that is usually called for in traditional Nanaimo bars. The recipe substitutes regular instant pudding powder, which is much easier to find.
You'll need a little less than a full box of graham crackers to make the crumbs for these bars. Walnuts and almonds are both traditional, but pecans are also good in the crumb layer. Because these bars are not baked, the egg mixture is heated to 160 degrees for food safety reasons.
Stir together in a large bowl and set aside:
3 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup nuts, chopped fine
Melt in the top of a double boiler over simmering water:
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
Add: 2 large eggs, beaten
Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 160 degrees. Immediately pour over graham cracker mixture and blend thoroughly. (Once the mixture has cooled, you may use your hands.) Sprinkle evenly into a 12 by 18-inch jellyroll or half-sheet pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and, using the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, press firmly into an even layer.
Beat with an electric mixer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Add and beat: 4 cups confectioners' sugar
Whisk together until dissolved:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vanilla instant pudding powder
Add to butter mixture and beat 1 to 2 minutes. Spread in an even layer over graham cracker mixture and refrigerate.
In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, stir until melted and smooth:
12 ounces (about 2 cups) finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Cool until just barely warm but still liquid, and pour over vanilla buttercream mixture. Spread evenly and smooth the surface. Refrigerate until chocolate topping is firm, then cut.
• Find the cookie cutter: Olympic Rings Cookie Cutters, $3.99 at Ann Clark Ltd.
(Images/Recipe courtesy of Ann Clark Ltd.)