So what happens, exactly, when you cross a Nanaimo Bar with a brownie? Visually, it doesn't differ too much from a traditional Nanaimo bar. But taste-wise, you have a sweet specimen which ups the ante of both desserts: a delicately crumbed, buttery brownie base coated with a smooth, creamy, custard-buttercream filling. And then, because, well, why not, you top it all with a firm chocolate topping. And oh, are they good. Consider serving in small portions, though: this is an extremely decadent breed of dessert, the likes of which will take your breath away and give your body a chocolate rush that might just last for days.
About the author: Jessie Oleson is a writer, illustrator, gallery owner, and cake anthropologist who runs Cakespy, an award-winning dessert website. Her first book came out in October 2011; she is currently at work on her second book.
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- Yield:Makes 36 brownies
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:3 hours
- For the Brownie Base:
- 2 (one-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (about 7 ounces) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- For the Middle Layer:
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Custard Powder (Bird's Brand preferred); or substitute vanilla pudding powder (instant)
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- For the Top Layer:
- 4 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 325°f. Place a rack in the middle position of the oven.
Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. Pour into a well-greased baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the brownies cool, prepare the middle layer. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream, custard powder, and confectioners' sugar together until very light and fluffy. Spread over the bottom layer, taking care to spread it as flat and evenly as possible. Return the pan to the refrigerator while you prepare the topping.
Prepare the top layer: in a medium saucepan or double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring often to ensure that the mixture doesn't scorch. Remove from heat. Let sit until the mixture is still liquid but very thick, then pour it over the second (middle) layer and gently spread it with a spatula to ensure even coverage (but work carefully, because the still-warm chocolate will get messy if you press too hard while spreading it and tear up the buttery layer below).
Let the bars cool for at least one hour in the refrigerator before serving.