These incredibly rich, no-bake bars are named after a city in
British Columbia, though no one seems to know why. They are
simple to prepare, though they must chill at least 2 hours after
you make them. My version includes grated orange rind in the
buttercream filling, but it can be omitted, if you wish. Store
the Nanaimos airtight in the fridge for up to five days, or
freeze them for longer storage. If you store them in plastic
cartons, as I do, place them in a single layer, and tape a piece
of paper towel on to the underside of the container top to absorb
any condensation, which might otherwise drip back into the cookies.
If you freeze them, make sure the wrappings don't touch the
You can use supermarket-bought chocolate here, if you wish,
but I have made these both with supermarket chocolate and good-quality
semisweet, and the difference is like night and day. You'll
need a food processor, blender, or nut grinder for the walnuts.
Traditionally, by the way, the "glaze" is a topping of melted
chocolate and butter, but I find a ganache easier to cut and
nicer to eat.
- 3/4 cup
cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 ounces
good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup
unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup
(1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups
sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 to 3
Tbsp. milk or heavy cream
- 1 tsp.
rind of 1/2 large orange (no white pith, please--zest only)
ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Few grains
- 1/2 cup
Line an 8 inch square baking pan with heavy-duty foil (or two
lengths of regular aluminum foil); the foil should extend at
least to the top of all sides (fold any overhang back against
the outside of the pan).
Crust: In food processor fitted with steel blade (or use
blender or nut grinder), process walnuts just until finely ground
(if using food processor or blender, grind the nuts with a few
spoonfuls of the graham cracker crumbs to help prevent over-processing).
Be careful here-- you don't want walnut paste! In medium bowl,
combine ground walnuts and all graham cracker crumbs and mix
Place chopped chocolate and butter pieces in small heatproof
bowl. Place over simmering water on low heat; stir often until
melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water. Add to walnut-crumb
mixture; with spoon, mix thoroughly until all ingredients are
well-blended. Turn mixture into lined pan. Compact firmly onto
bottom of pan. Chill while preparing Filling.
Buttercream Filling: In medium bowl, beat softened butter
with hand-held electric mixer at low speed just until creamy.
Add half of confectioners' sugar and 1 Tbsp. milk. Beat in at
low speed. Scrape bowl and beater(s) well with rubber spatula.
Add remaining half of confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat
in at low speed, then increase speed to medium-high and beat
until fluffy. Gradually add enough remaining milk for a good
spreading consistency; you don't want this Filling too stiff,
but it shouldn't be runny, either. Remove from mixer; by hand,
stir in orange zest.
Place all of Buttercream Filling on top of chilled Crust. With
back of spoon or offset spatula, spread as evenly as possible.
Chill while preparing Glaze.
Glaze: Place finely chopped chocolate and salt in medium
heatproof bowl. In small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream
over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until it simmers.
Remove from heat. Add about two-thirds of hot cream to chocolate.
Allow chocolate to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk
gently until smooth. If necessary, place chocolate over simmering
water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir
often until smooth, then remove from heat and hot water. Gradually
add remaining cream to melted chocolate mixture. Glaze will
be thin at this point.
Cool Glaze at room temperature, gently whisking or stirring
occasionally. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula
occasionally. When a small amount of Glaze dropped from a spoon
back into the bowl forms a slight mound which remains for several
seconds before disappearing back into the bowl, the Glaze is
ready. Turn cooled Glaze onto surface of Buttercream Filling;
immediately spread evenly with back of spoon or offset spatula.
Return Nanaimos to refrigerator; chill at least 2 hours before
To cut, remove block of uncut cookies, still in foil, from pan.
Allow to stand at room temperature about 10 minutes before cutting.
With small, sharp knife, gently separate Glaze from foil. Carefully
peel foil from edges of bars. Use a large, sharp, straight-edged
knife to cut bars; frequently, it will be necessary to rinse
the knife blade clean under hot water, then dry it, if the cuts
are to be kept neat. Cut into 24 bars (make sure you cut all
the way through the crust when cutting). Store in refrigerator
as described above, or freeze. To serve, allow to stand at room
temperature 10 to 15 minutes before eating.
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