Happy Canada Day!
Today’s post is a long one, so I am splitting it up into subheadings! I wish you the best of Canada Days!
I really wanted to do some Canada Day themed nails! I tried using my dotter to make a leaf pattern, with some success. I couldn’t seem to be able to get it small enough to look right on a nail however. I moved on to trying to paint a maple leaf with the tiny brush I have. I did end painting something that resembled a leaf alright, perhaps a more popular one than maple. Deciding that this wasn’t the look I was going for, I scrapped the maple leaf plan and went with a red and white dot theme! The first shot is a bit dark, the next with two rows of dots I remembered to turn the flash on for. I’m not too proficient with the dotter yet but I’m getting there. Not bad for the late hour I did these at!
Pretty cute I think! Love this dotting tool, only had it a week or so and already a lot of use out of it!
Time for a snack!
I’d like to share one of my all time favourite Canadian recipes! It is for Nanaimo Bars, a three layer no bake square/bar type dessert. No bake = perfect for summer treat! I will include substitutions and variations below. They look like this!
For the Base:
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (note about substitutions to follow)
1 cup shredded coconut (I’ve used sweetened and unsweetened, it doesn’t really matter, use what you like best)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the filling:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
6 tbsp milk
4 tbsp custard powder (note about substitutions to follow)
4 cups icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)
For the topping:
8 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate (I use the handy pre-measured Baker’s chocolate squares)
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1) For the base, combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan. Heat and stir over medium heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Depending on your personal level of fusspottery, you may also do this step in the microwave or over a double boiler as preferred.
2) Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Pack the mixture firmly into a 9×13” pan (for thinner bars) or an 8×8” pan (for fat, rich, thick bars, my preference) when it is cool enough to handle. Place the base in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
3) Beat all 4 filling ingredients with a mixer until smooth. Spread filling over chilled base, and refrigerate til completely set, about an hour, maybe less.
4) For the topping, melt chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave at 50% (or less depending on your microwave’s power) stirring every 30 seconds or so as it melts. When it is fully melted and smooth, spread this over top the chilled filling and base. Place in fridge to chill for another hour or so. You can remove at this point to score the top chocolate layer for easier cutting later, or let it chill the entire way and cut later. If you want to chill it fully cut it later, I’d recommend letting it sit at room temperature a while first so it chocolate doesn’t break up when slicing.
Graham Cracker Crumbs: If you don’t have these available in your area, I have heard people have had success with crushed vanilla wafers (the plain flat dry cookie type, not the wafers with filling), crushed animal crackers, zweiback baby cookies, oreo cookie crumbs, crushed biscotti (fancy), and my Australian friends use crushed digestive biscuits, which seem to be the closest substitution. For a gluten free option, use crushed gluten free cookies (something plain) or gluten free cereal like Chex or Rice Krispies, or whatever else you have locally that you think will crush up into decent, cookie like crumbs. Just make sure your chocolate and filling ingredients are also gluten free!
For the custard powder which I believe might be a Canadian/UK thing, you can substitute with an equal amount of instant vanilla pudding powder, but I assure you it will not be the same! For those who would be upset at the remainder of unused vanilla pudding powder (and I know some people who would be), just mix it up with a bit of milk, eat it and stop panicking. Or, an even better option, save it for your next batch of Nanaimo Bars, or dump it in your next batch of chocolate chip cookies. Trust me.
Some variation ideas (no real recipes here as they are just ideas, but I’m sure google can help you out if you need it):
-Mint Chocolate Nanaimo Bars: Make as directed, only add a a bit of mint favouring and green food colouring to the filling part. This would work well with the vanilla pudding substitute as well. This is how my Auntie makes them for xmas every year.
-Peanut Butter Chocolate Nanaimo Bars: Make as directed, adding a couple tbsp peanut butter in the filling mixture and substitute the walnuts for chopped peanuts in the base.
-Butter Pecan Nanaimo Bars: In place of the custard powder, use equal amount butterscotch pudding powder or some caramel flavouring syrup. Replace the walnuts in the base with chopped pecans in the base.
-Cherry Almond Nanaimo Bars: Replace the custard powder with cherry and almond extract, or cherry juice, maybe some finely chopped maraschino cherries, replace the walnuts with chopped almonds in the base.
-Mocha Nanaimo Bars: Add a bit of super strong coffee or some instant coffee to the filling (maybe mixing it in a tiny, tiny bit of water to dissolve first) and prepare as directed.
-Boozey Nanaimo Bars: Add some Grand Marnier to the filling, perhaps a small amount of grated orange rind to the base. Or maybe some Bailey’s, Amaretto, Kahlua, etc in the filling, the remainder prepared as directed.
The recipe, as you can see, is very forgiving and flexible, you’re sure to find a version you’ll like!
Where I live, Canada Day is usually celebrated with booze, backyard bbq’s, fireworks and red and white patriotic decorations, much like July 4th from what I can tell. I came across some unexpected suggestions while shopping recently, however. I was minding my own business at the store, when I looked up to find this:
I’m all for celebrating in your undies, it was just an unexpected display. Thinking it was a one off thing, maybe just a store employee with a sense of humor, I pretty much forgot about it. Until I opened my email, and found this (a La Senza ad mail):
I guess I’ve got the memo! Happy Canada Day, party in your panties!