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Nanaimo Bars


Where do I even start?

This past year has been one of the hardest, most exciting, most transformational years of my life. Things happened over the past year that I never thought would happen to me, that I never saw coming, that I didn’t know how to deal with or react to. The emotional roller coaster that I’ve been riding this year made me sometimes happy, sometimes deeply depressed, often euphoric and full of love but also left me sometimes emptier than I’ve ever felt before. My inner monologue has truly never had so much to say to me and this time I took many long moments to really listen to it.

People came into my life that changed me in the most wonderful ways, they made me grow exponentially to form a new layer of myself that wasn’t there before. Although every day of my life, I see opportunity to grow and change and meet new people, this past year was something different. I learned so much about myself, about the ways in which I have reacted to people my whole life and the ways in which I actually want to act now. I’ve always preached a “be true to you” attitude, but sometimes my overt niceness supersedes that feeling of having “no more fucks to give”. The more amazing people that come into my life, the happier I am. I am truly a social person and spending days just being with friends, making food for people I love and just listening to others talk has made for interesting fodder for my thoughts.

I hate to hurt people, but in so doing for so many years, have only allowed myself to be hurt. As selfish as it seems, being number one in my own mind has truly been a freeing feeling. Choices made in my life now need to be the best for me, because I am me and when I am happy, my kids are happy. Nothing feels so inescapable as being in a pit of despair and having to deal with two small, emotionally undeveloped minds. They don’t understand the sadness, the depressed moods, they only want to see you happy and having fun.

Being the best version of myself, being happy in my relationships and being true to myself can only show my children that pushing on in the face of adversity requires work. You cannot continue to live a life that causes misery, bitterness and despair in the hopes that everything will turn out okay and expect your kids to not see you suffering. I want to teach my kids that they deserve the best in everything, and if something is not working, change it, don’t just pretend it’s not there and definitely do not suffer in silence. Change is often hard and no one wants to make decisions that hurt others, but sometimes you have no choice.

It would take more time and effort than I have in me at the moment to describe the feelings I have for the growth I have done these past nine months but I can summarize in short, so you can just get to the delicious recipe below.

  • I became separated from my husband for four months
  • We moved back in together in June and began what has been the hardest transition our marriage has ever seen
  • I stopped writing and blogging
  • I began a personal meal delivery service that took over my weekends
  • I got a “real” job at a butcher shop
  • I tore out my whole backyard and made it into a huge garden which took up most of my free time over the spring/early summer
  • I met someone with the same ideals and passion for food that I have and we started planning a restaurant together. We are set to open in April 2016 if all goes well…
  • We started a Farm to Table dinner series in the meantime.

If I know you personally, I’ve talked about this insane ride over the last nine months in so much detail you are probably very sick of hearing about it, but I thank all my friends and family who have been there for me during this brutally hard time if my life. I have never felt so loved.

Now, on to the serious part of this post…

Nanaimo Bars have always, always been one of my all-time favourite desserts. Being from the island where they were invented has probably given me a greater appreciation for their creation, but they will always have a place in my heart…and stomach. Some of the most important people in my life love them almost as much as I do and I have made them as gifts for many of them over the years. Nothing says love and generosity like giving away your most beloved of desserts…

nanaimo-bars-1-2One Year Ago: Apple Fritter Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Muffins
Three Years Ago: Coconut Pancakes
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Five Years Ago: Cauliflower and Potato Salad
Six Years Ago: Brown Butter Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

Recipe Adapted from the City of Nanaimo Website and provided by Joyce Hardcastle

Nanaimo Bars

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12 large squares

The classic Nanaimo Bar, in all it's luscious glory.


    Base Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp cream
  • 2 tbsp Birds custard powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Top Layer
  • 4 squares (4 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter


    Base Layer:
  1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler or small bowl placed over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the boil.
  2. Add beaten egg and stir until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts.
  4. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
  5. Middle Layer:
  6. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together.
  7. Beat until light and fluffy (Using an electric mixer with whisk attachments is optional but works well here).
  8. Spread evenly over bottom layer.
  9. Top Layer:
  10. Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler or small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
  11. To cut without crushing the squares, heat your knife in boiled water. Wipe clean and reheat every time you slice through, especially the top layer.


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