Nanaimo Bars

Trying to show the layers, hence the two photos in different lights and both still pretty crappy pics!

Nanaimo bars ( which I always end up spelling slightly differently every time I write it !) were my choice of recipe for the No bake tray bake class at my local show.  I wanted a recipe that was a bit different. The usual recipes people tend to go for is the classic rocky road, but I wanted a recipe that no-one else would have made and also a recipe that I hadn’t yet made myself. I like to try new things.

My hubbie has often spoke about his grans baking when he was younger. She still bakes today, but not to the same scale and I’m led to believe that she would bake so much she would forget what she had made and tins of baked goodies would be found in the cupboards weeks after being made. Hubby had often mentioned Nanaimo bars with great fondness. His gran however does not keep recipes, or rather the recipes are all in her head and not written down and they often start with, ” oh I just put a handful of this and a wee handful of that…..” so I had to search online to get a recipe.

It was during this search that I noted that these seemed to be really popular in Canada, but not so much here. In fact not many people had heard of them so not sure how they managed to find there way to a Scottish farmhouse of my hubbie’s youth in the 80’s!

They are a very sweet, chocolate and custard bar and they reminded me of a bar that my hubbies Uni flatmate used to make for going rock climbing. Full of sugar, fat and energy! Maybe not the best advertisement and I’m not sure I would allow children to have these too often.

I got this recipe from the GoodtoKnow website and it was the first and only recipe for Nanaimo bars that I tried. My practice went really well, much better than when I actually made them for the show.

Ingredients

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Bottom layer- 125 grams of Scottish organic butter, 2 level tablespoons of golden caster sugar, 2 level tablespoons of cocoa, 1 medium egg, beaten, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 300 grams of digestive biscuits and 60 grams of desiccated coconut.

Middle Custard Filling Layer-60 grams of Scottish Organic butter, 2 tablespoons of custard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 250 grams of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Topping- 150 grams of Organic dark chocolate, 30 grams of Scottish Organic butter, 4 tablespoons of strong black coffee.

First of all line your baking tray with greaseproof paper. My baking tray was a 9 inch x 7 inch.

For the bottom layer, in a pan over a low heat add the butter, sugar, cocoa and stir continuously until the sugar dissolves. Now in my pracgice go this step went fine. Nice and simple you would think, however the second time I made it, the butter itself seemed to separate into two distinct liquids,the mixture looked awful and was really runny. I binned that and started again. This time around, it worked fine and came together and melted perfectly. My thought was perhaps the butter had been left out too long, so when it melted the grease separated??? Not sure if this is the case however I think the key is also to keep the mix on a low heat and stir continuously. Once melted take off the heat.

Place the digestives in food bag and use a rolling pin to mash into crumbs.

Add the egg, vanilla,  digestive crumbs and coconut into the mix. To stop the egg curdling I add a bit of the mix into the egg and mixed then add the egg/ choc mix into the pan. Mix together well then add to your lined baking tray. Press the mix into the tray, making sure it is even and then leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Middle custard filling layer-  In a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the custard powder, vanilla and then the icing sugar and lemon juice and mix until all combined and until it has a spreadable consistency.  Then evenly spread this lovely mix over the top of the biscuit layer and pop back in the fridge for 2 hours.

Topping- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water in a pan. Once melted, whisk in the coffee and then spread the chocolate/coffee mix evenly over the top of the custard layer. Leave outside the fridge until set. Now the first time I made this, the chocolate layer set beautifully however, this time when I checked to see whether the layer had set, there were butter/ grease streaks on the chocolate. Now I think this was due to having the butter out on the counter getting soft and sweaty for longer than I should have. However, as I had no time to start again, I melted another 15o grams of chccolate, leaving out the butter and coffee this time, then spread this over the top of the choc/coffee layer. This was the reason I did not have enough chocolate for my intended brownie recipe!

The coffee/ choc layer doesn’t really harden all that much in comparison with a layer that is just chocolate, so it actually worked out well that I had the biscuit/ coconut base, custard layer, choc/coffee layer then a chocolate covering.

Cut into small bars, a little of this goes a long way!

Sorry, there are no pics of the actual cut pieces, turns out baking for competition and remembering to take photos ( and good photos at that) do not go hand in hand for me.  I’m working on it though.

 

 

Local Show Baking results

Some of you may already be aware from my previous posts that I have been baking in an attempt to perfect cakes and recipes for entry into the local show. Well, the show has been and gone and I can tell you that even with all my practice, the day before was still a chaotic blur day of baking, making mistakes and frantically trying to get everything done on time for the Saturday. Entries had to be at the show and exhibited before 9am, so really Friday was the day to get it all done. There could be no last minute baking or amendments on the Saturday morning, hence why I had dutifully practised my recipes. But to be honest, no matter how much practice you put in, things can inevitably go wrong, as I found out.

1 jar of Strawberry Jam class

I haven’t made jam very often, but I inherited my Nannies Jam pans and wanted to continue her tradition of jam making. I made the Jam a couple of days before, but to be honest this could have made weeks before.

There’s not much to strawberry jam, but here’s the recipe anyway……

Ingredients

1kg of British Strawberries, now I was told to not use overly ripe strawberries however I saw punnets reduced to £1.30 each in the local supermarket  due to them reaching there use by date and thought, sod it I’ll just use those or it would have cost me £8. 96 otherwise.

750 grams of Jam Sugar  which also has pectin in it and it really good for using with fruits that have little pectin in them. The Pectin helps the jam to set better.

The juice of 1 lemon

A knob of butter ( optional)

Place some small side plates into your freezer.

I washed the strawberries using a damp cloth to try and not get too much moisture into them and them hulled and halved them. Fortunately half way through I got a phonecall so I forced my hubbie to take over this bit!

Put the Strawberries, Sugar and lemon juice into a pan and place on the stove at a low heat. You basically want all the sugar to dissolve. Make sure it does not boil at this point! To test if all the sugar has been dissolved I place a spoon in the mix and take it back out and check for granules on the back of the spoon. Also the sugar will stick to the sides of the pan, so occasionally get a brush dipped in warm water and brush the sides of the pan with it to help dissolve all the sugar.

Once all the sugar has been dissolved bring the mix to a boil and boil rapidly for between 5- 10 minutes until the mix is set.  I don’t use a thermometer  ( nether did my Nannie) so what I do is get a plate from the freezer and place a dob of jam on it, leave it for a few seconds and then press the jam with your finger. If the jam wrinkles and doesn’t move to fill the gap, then the jam has set. I do, however know that my hubbie’s gran made her jam runnier and missed out this stage!

If there is any scum on the top, skim this off and you can also put a knob of butter in the jam to help get rid of any scum. Leave the Jam in the pan for a wee while maybe 8-10 minutes. Its usually during this time I sterilise my jars. I put them in a preheated oven, 130° C for 8-10 mins and I usually put the lids in a basin of boiling water and pat dry with a clean cloth.

Then once jars are sterilised, fill the jars up with jam, not quite to the top and then I usually put in a wax disc on top of the jam, then add the lid.

Given that I had not made jam that often and the number of entries in this class on the day, I didn’t have high expectations, but I actually won 1st Prize! Apparently the judges, according to my mother in law, look for a really vibrant red jam. I have no idea how I managed it, but my jam was the brightest out of the bunch.

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I also entered home made lemonade, brownies, lemon drizzle cake and Naniamo bars in their respective classes.

Glass of homemade lemonade class

For homemade lemonade, I used the recipe I had posted about previously but without the strawberries. I was surprised that I was the only entry in this class, so I ended up getting 1st Prize and a Highly Commended for my lemonade.  But given the lack of competition this doesn’t count!

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4 pieces of brownie class

My brownies were a slight problem given that after making the Naniamo bars, I did not have enough chocolate to use the recipe I wanted to. So much for forward planning! However, good old Delia stepped in with her classic brownie recipe that only used 50 grams of chocolate! I must admit though that the Brownies looked quite ugly, as they sank a bit in the middle, leaving big high crusty ends. I almost did not enter these, but thought I may as well since, despite their looks, they still tasted yummy. I dusted them with icing sugar and called them good. Surprisingly, I got 3rd place with them!!

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See how ugly they are!!

 

My lemon drizzle cake and Naniamo bars did not place, but all in all I was well chuffed with getting prizes for my jam and brownies as I had not expected to get anything at all. I had been watching a cooking programme where professional chefs travel around Britain entering classes in the Local shows and it has shown me that even professionals can get it wrong and don’t always meet the criteria set by the judges!

P.s I will post the recipe for Brownies and Naniamo bars at a later date.