As many of you already know, the International Taoist Tai Chi Society put out a 40th anniversary international cookbook last year, representing the global reach and flavors of the Society. Branches can still place orders for books by emailing the Etobicoke location of the Toronto branch, which put the book together. (The cookbooks cost $20 CDN each.) This is one of the many recipes submitted by Society members.
Sweet, no-bake Nanaimo bars originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, where the recipe became popular in community cookbooks and at fundraising bake sales during the 1950s. Today you can find them across North America. This recipe was submitted to the cookbook by Sara Frisch of Nanaimo.
Makes about 2 dozen bars
For the bottom layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs (from about 28 crackers)
1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (or granola or other seeds)
For the middle layer:
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered icing (aka confectioner’s) sugar or 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
For the top layer:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
To prepare the bottom layer, in a saucepan melt the butter, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla over medium heat. Add the egg and cook until thickened but not curdled. Add the Graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts and pat into an 8″ by 8″ square pan. Cool. To prepare the middle layer, combine the cream with the custard powder until smooth. Beat the butter, icing sugar, and cream mixture until light and fluffy. Spread this over the bottom layer and refrigerate to chill. To prepare the top layer, melt the chocolate and butter together over low hear. Cool and spread over the custard layer of the bars. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours, then cut into bars.