Tag Archives: squares

Classic Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

These delightful no-bake bars are almost like candy!  Bar none, these Nanaimo Bars are my all-time favorite bars.  They consist of three layers:  1) a chocolate base consisting of graham wafer crumbs, nuts, cocoa, and coconut; 2) a soft yellow-colored custard-flavored filling made primarily with icing sugar and custard powder; and 3) a rich chocolate ganache topping.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

There is a lot of mystery around the history and exact origins of  the decadent Nanaimo Bars.  The history has been traced back to the early 1950s when a square, simply called “Chocolate Square” (with the ingredients we know today as “Nanaimo Bars”), appeared in the 1952 Women’s Auxiliary of the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook in British Columbia. Shortly after, circa 1953, the same recipe appeared, under the name of “Nanaimo Bars” in the Edith Adams Cookbook (14th edition). Both recipes have the same common ingredients.  As to who the precise creator of the recipe was, however, has not been definitively determined and the square, or bar, has gone by several names over the years, including New York Slice, Smog Squares, and London Fog Bars.  Whomever it was, they created a sure winner that has endured throughout the years and the treat is commonly known as Nanaimo Bars!

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

These bars are not difficult to make but they do take a little time since there are three parts to the bars — a base, filling, and topping. I recommend making the base in the top of a double boiler or, alternatively, in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  The base can be made in a heavy-bottomed saucepan but it can set up rather quickly using this method and there is always the danger of scorching the ingredients.

For the filling, I use Bird’s brand vanilla custard powder,usually found in the baking aisle of Canadian supermarkets.  However, any vanilla custard powder may be used in this recipe.  Many recipes for Nanaimo Bars only use a couple of tablespoons of custard powder.  However, I find that makes the filling too soft and squishy for handling.  I use 3 1/2 tablespoons of custard powder in my recipe and find it gives a lovely velvety textured filling that will hold its own when handled.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

While they are called “bars”, I cut mine into squares and, from a 9″x9″ pan, I get 25 delectable squares.  These need to be kept refrigerated, or frozen for longer storage.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:
 
Base:

½ cup butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp cocoa
1 extra-large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Filling:

½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tbsp whipping cream (35%)
3½ tbsp vanilla custard powder
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)

Topping:

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Method:

Line 9” square pan with parchment paper leaving enough overhang to easily lift finished square from pan for cutting.

Base:  In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter and then add the sugar and cocoa powder.  Stir to combine ingredients.  Whisk in the egg.  Stir until mixture thickens.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts.  Press mixture into prepared pan.  Cool in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

Filling:  In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and whipping cream together.  Add the vanilla.  Blend in the custard powder followed by the icing sugar, beating until mixture is smooth.  If mixture appears too stiff, add 1-2 teaspoons whipping cream and beat mixture well to combine (note, however, that mixture should not be soupy).  Spread evenly over cooled base.  Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Topping:  In small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring to mix.  Spread evenly over chilled filling.  Refrigerate to set chocolate, approximately 30 minutes.  Use a sharp, flat blade knife to cut into squares.

Refrigerate bars in single layer in airtight container for up to 5 days or, for longer storage, freeze in airtight container.

Nanaimo Squares
Nanaimo Bars

 

Nanaimo Bars

Decadent no-bake Nanaimo Bars consist of three layers of a velvety custard filling sandwiched in between a chocolate-coconut-nut base and rich chocolate ganache topping
Course Dessert
Keyword Nanaimo Bars
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

Base:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 extra-large egg room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Filling:

  • ½ cup butter softened at room temperature
  • tbsp whipping cream 35%
  • tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar aka powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar

Topping:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp butter softened at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Line 9” square pan with parchment paper leaving enough overhang to easily lift finished square from pan for cutting.

Base: In bottom of double boiler, bring about 2” of water to the simmer point (around 200°F). Maintain the water at this simmer point over medium-low heat. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter and then add the sugar and cocoa powder. Stir to combine ingredients. Whisk in the egg. Stir until mixture thickens. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press mixture into prepared pan. Cool in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

    Filling: In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and whipping cream together. Add the vanilla. Blend in the custard powder followed by the icing sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. If mixture appears too stiff, add 1-2 teaspoons whipping cream and beat mixture well to combine (note, however, that mixture should not be soupy). Spread evenly over cooled base. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

      Topping: In small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring to mix. Spread evenly over chilled filling. Refrigerate to set chocolate, approximately 30 minutes. Use a sharp, flat blade knife to cut into squares.

      1. Refrigerate bars in single layer in airtight container for up to 5 days or, for longer storage, freeze in airtight container.

      Recipe Notes

      Yield:  1 - 9"x9" pan, approximately 25 squares

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      Nanaimo Bars
      Classic Nanaimo Bars

      Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

      Chocolate Coconut Squares
      Chocolate Coconut Squares

      This no-bake chocolate coconut square is one of the easiest to make and it does not take a lot of ingredients.  The recipe calls for graham wafer crumbs –   to make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs. There may be a number of brands of these crumbs available. I use the Kinnikinnick brand. In fact, the squares in the photos in this post are made with these gluten-free crumbs.

      Chocolate Coconut Squares
      Chocolate Coconut Squares

      This square is almost candy-bar quality.  It is not a thick square but it is rich, moist, and very tasty! A great treat anytime and a sure favorite on any sweet tray.

      Chocolate Coconut Squares
      Chocolate Coconut Squares

      Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

      Ingredients:
      ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
      2 tbsp brown sugar
      2 tbsp granulated sugar
      3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

      1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
      1 tsp vanilla

      2 cups graham wafer crumbs
      1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
      ½ cup chopped pecans

      Method:
      Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.

      Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  Do not boil.

      Add the beaten egg and vanilla.  Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

      Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans.  Stir to combine ingredients well.

      Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.  Cool.  Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

      Icing

      Ingredients:

      2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar)
      3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
      2½ tbsp water
      ½ tsp almond flavoring

      1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate
      1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

      Method:
      Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer.  Mix on low speed to blend in butter.  Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth.  Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.

      Spread icing evenly over square.  Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together.  Drizzle in desired design over icing.  Cut squares into desired size.

      Yield:  1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

      Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

      Easy-to-make unbaked chocolate coconut square is sure to appeal to any sweet tooth and make a fine addition to sweet trays

      Course Dessert
      Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

      Ingredients

      • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
      • 2 tbsp brown sugar
      • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
      • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
      • 1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
      • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
      • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

      Icing

      • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner's sugar)
      • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
      • 2 1/2 tbsp water
      • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
      • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate
      • 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

      Instructions

      1. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.
      2. Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Do not boil.

      3. Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
      4. Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans. Stir to combine ingredients well.
      5. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Cool. Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

      Icing

      1. Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low speed to blend in butter. Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.
      2. Spread icing evenly over square. Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together. Drizzle in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. 

        Yield: 1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

      Recipe Notes

      To make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs.

       

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      Chocolate Coconut Squares
      Chocolate Coconut Squares

      Old-fashioned Jam Squares

      Old-fashioned Jam Squares
      Old-fashioned Jam Squares

      Jam Squares are an old-fashioned favourite that I grew up with.  They are easy to make and only take common ingredients.  While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam, such as raspberry, is chosen. They are a treat at any time and look especially good on sweet trays for special events.

      Jam Squares
      Jam Squares

      [Printable Recipe follows at end of posting]

      Old-Fashioned Jam Squares

      Ingredients:

      1/3 cup butter
      1 egg
      1 tsp vanilla
      ½ tsp almond flavoring
      ½ cup white sugar
      1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
      1 tsp baking powder
      ¼ tsp salt
      ¼ tsp cinnamon
      ⅛ tsp cardamom
      Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
      ½ cup raspberry jam

      Method:

      Preheat oven to 350°.

      Assemble ingredients.

      Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.

      With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.

      Sift  sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together.  Stir in grated lemon rind.  Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.

      Shape dough into a small oblong shape.  Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.

      Meanwhile, press remaining  dough into prepared pan.  Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.

      Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer.  Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan.

      Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.

      Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.

      Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

      Old-fashioned Jam Squares

      Yield: 16 squares

      These easy-to-make showy squares take only common ingredients. While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam is chosen.

      Ingredients

      • 1/3 cup butter
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • ½ tsp almond flavoring
      • ½ cup white sugar
      • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • ¼ tsp salt
      • ¼ tsp cinnamon
      • ? tsp cardamom
      • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
      • ½ cup raspberry jam

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 350°.
      2. Assemble ingredients.
      3. Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.
      4. With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.
      5. Sift sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together. Stir in grated lemon rind. Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
      6. Shape dough into a small oblong shape. Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
      7. Meanwhile, press remaining dough into prepared pan. Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.
      8. Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer. Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan. Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.
      9. Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.
      10. Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into squares.
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      Jam Squares

      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

      This is one of my most favorite squares!  I have been making this recipe for years.  It’s good any time of the year and is often found in my summer picnic basket.  With its rich, gooey chocolate center and a slightly crunchy topping, it’s a real treat for sure, especially for chocolate lovers.

      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

      Ingredients:

      Base:

      1 cup all-purpose flour
      1 tsp baking powder
      Pinch salt
      ⅓ cup butter, softened
      ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
      2 egg yolks

      10 oz. chocolate chips

      Topping:
      2 egg whites, beaten stiff
      ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
      1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
      1 tsp vanilla
      ½ cup macaroon coconut

      Method:

      Assemble ingredients.

      Prepare 9” square pan by lining with tin foil and spraying with cooking oil.

      Preheat oven to 350°F.

      Base:
      In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

      Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

      Add dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

      Evenly press dough into prepared pan.

      Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Set aside.

      Topping:
      In clean mixer bowl, beat the two egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

      Beat in the brown sugar, adding a tablespoon at a time.

      Add the vanilla.

      Fold in the coconut.

      Spread the topping evenly over the chocolate chips.

      Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned. Remove from oven and place pan on wire cooling rack. Let cool completely. Lift tin foil and square from the pan and cut into squares.

      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

       

      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

      Ingredients

      • Base:
      • 1 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • Pinch salt
      • 1/3 cup butter, softened
      • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
      • 2 egg yolks
      • 10 oz. chocolate chips
      • Topping:
      • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
      • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
      • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • ½ cup macaroon coconut

      Instructions

      1. Assemble ingredients.
      2. Prepare 9” square pan by lining with tin foil and spraying with cooking oil.
      3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
      4. Base:
      5. In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
      6. Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
      7. Evenly press dough into prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Set aside.
      8. Topping:
      9. In clean mixer bowl, beat the two egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in the brown sugar, adding a tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla. Fold in the coconut.
      10. Spread the topping evenly over the chocolate chips.
      11. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned. Remove from oven and place pan on wire cooling rack. Let cool completely. Lift tin foil and square from the pan and cut into squares.
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      Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
      Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares