Before this recipe was featured on thekitchen.com, I had never heard of Nanaimo Bars. It turns out that most people in the US haven't heard of Nanaimo Bars unless they've been to Vancouver and happened to have them there. Nanaimo Bars is a regional specialty of Vancouver. Curtis, being a Canadian citizen whose mother lived in Vancouver for years, had heard of these and was excited when he heard I was making them in honor of the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.
My one warning about this recipe is this: Be prepared to share these bars. It makes a lot of bars. By a lot, I mean a cookie sheet worth....an entirely covered cookie sheet. Cut up, it makes between 72 - 100 bars, depending on how small you cut these (and I would recommend pretty small because they are rich).
Curtis and the kids loved these. I had mixed feelings toward them. I think I would like them much better if I had left out the coconut entirely. I don't love them, but I am working very hard to put a dent in our remaining 40 bars that are hanging out in my refrigerator. Next time I make this, I will definitely cut the recipe in half.
3 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 c shredded coconuts
1 c almonds, pecans, or walnuts, chopped fine
1 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T cocoa
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c butter, at room temperature
4 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c vanilla instant pudding powder
12 oz (about 2 c) finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/4 c heavy cream
2 T butter
For the bottom layer: stir together graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt butter, sugar, and cocoa. Once the butter is melted, add the eggs. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 160 degrees (this is to reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning because the bars aren't baked). Immediately pour over the graham cracker mixture and blend thoroughly. Press firmly into an even layer in a 12 x 18" cookie sheet (a half-sheet pan with sides).
For the middle layer: Beat together the butter and confectioner's sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and instant pudding powder. Add to the butter mixture and beat 1 - 2 minutes. Spread in an even layer over graham cracker mixture and refrigerate. This is easiest to do using your fingers as the layer is rather thick in consistency. Once spread out, the layer will be thin.
For the top layer: In a top of double boiler over simmering water, combine chocolate, cream, and butter. Stir until melted and smooth. Cool until just barely warm, but still liquid and pour over vanilla middle layer. Spread evenly and smooth the surface. Refrigerate until chocolate topping is firm, then cut.