As the weather turns crisp and we’re spending more time at home, baking becomes one of our favourite pastimes. Not only can the act be soothing itself, but it’s rewarding to create delicious treats to share with loved ones (we firmly believe that baking is a love language). And what better to cozy up with than Canadian treasure Anna Olson’s new cookbook, Baking Day with Anna Olson?
Classic Nanaimo bars are remixed with the cozy addition of hot chocolate and marshmallows for a truly delightful treat. A twist on a classic can be a beautiful thing, and adding hot chocolate mix to a Nanaimo bar recipe really works. Nestled between the traditional chocolate coconut base and the melted chocolate topping is a layer of hot chocolate–spiked custard icing. When the bars are topped with mini marshmallows, the hot chocolate twist is complete.
Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides.
For the crust, place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a metal bowl and set over a pot of gently simmering water, whisking until the butter has melted. Add the lightly beaten egg and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs and coconut (or almonds). Scrape the crust mixture into the pan and spread to level it. Chill the pan while preparing the filling.
For the filling, beat the butter with 1 cup (130 g) icing sugar until smooth. Stir the hot chocolate mix, custard powder and salt with the milk (it will make a thick paste) and stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Beat in the remaining ½ cup (65 g) icing sugar. Do not overbeat — the filling should be smooth, but not fluffy. Spread evenly over the crust (no need to refrigerate).
For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently with a spatula until melted. Cool the chocolate slightly and then pour over the filling, spreading to cover it. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top of the chocolate in an even layer (it will not fully hide the chocolate) and, if you like, finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Chill the pan for about 2 hours before slicing into bars. Nanaimo bars will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.