It always amazes me what sort of things end up on the Canadian stamps. It makes me wonder how I can get myself on the Stamp Committee to decide what should be the next eye-popping theme. The latest series of Canadian stamps to venture forth highlights our “National Desserts.” I’m not sure who decides that as I never thought one way or the other that we had any particular Canadian desserts. But apparently we do and my province of British Columbia supposedly salutes the “Nanaimo Bar.” I’m not sure I agree with this choice even though these bars have always been around.
Nanaimo Bars were something Grandmas or Moms made and taught to their daughters. It was a dessert that always made an appearance in potlucks, church bazaars, get-togethers and even as a “saved-in-the-freezer-dessert emergency”. Canadians know exactly how a genuine 3-layer Nanaimo Bar tastes with its base layer of butter, graham-wafer crumbs, cocoa powder and fine coconut base with a firm custard-like middle layer and topped with a slightly thinner layer of dark chocolate. Every family had its own version and every version was supposedly the best.
Nanaimo Bars are probably considered sugar overload and a calorific delight. This 3-layer treat is not a skimpy square. These bars are rich, sweet and hearty. Despite the postal service’s explanation that there are many versions of Nanaimo Bars, the one depicted on the Canadian stamp is not a Nanaimo Bar–it is an impostor. At this moment, there is a Canadian crisis as all the chefs, pastry-makers, grandmas, moms and yes, even politicians make their protests known and flaunt their true version of this delectable treat. This crisis has even caught the attention of the New York Times. Thanks to my friend, Emsch the Mensch of “Notes From the Cupcake Rescue League,” here is an article from the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/dining/nanaimo-bars.html And, if you want to sample this treat in the privacy of your homes, I am including the original recipe below. Just remember we all make our little changes here and there for the base and the filling but the base must be as high as the filling with the melted chocolate topping just a tad thinner. . . .
Nanaimo Bar Recipe: Bottom Layer: 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 5 tbsp. cocoa, 1 egg beaten, 1-1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs, 1/2 c. finely chopped almonds, 1 cup fine coconut. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″x8″ pan.
2nd Layer: 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 tbsp+ 2 tsp. cream, 2 tbsp. vanilla custard powder, 2 cups icing sugar Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer
3rd Layer: 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1-oz each), 2 tbsp. unsalted butter. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer. Chill in refrigerator until firm enough to cut into small squares.