Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chocolate Goodwill Ambassadors

When I first moved to Seattle I felt like such a foreigner. I couldn't navigate around the city. Where I grew up there were easily seen landmarks for North, East, and West, and I could figure out the other one. And all the streets were laid out in a neat grid traveling on north-south or east-west lines. So simple that it fooled me into thinking I was pretty good at navigating. Hah.

In Seattle the landmarks are rolling hills, water, and volcanic mountains, north and south, and mountain ranges to the east and west. But which is which? When someone gives directions that say, "head toward the water," do they mean Lake Washington, Lake Union, or Puget Sound?

I felt like a foreigner in conversation. I didn't know any of the sports teams or local bands people were talking about.

I also felt like a foreigner when it came to food. There were so many things that I'd never had before. A friend took me out for Vietnamese food and I hadn't known it was possible for my mouth to feel so hot without actual flames coming out of it. I was never brave enough to try lutefisk. And coming from a desert climate I wasn't prepared for my first sight of a geoduck. Euwww!

But some things I adapted to easily. Like desserts. When I first tried a Nanaimo Bar I was in heaven. It's a regional speciality, named for the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada. I wish I could do a drawing like Fiona of Wok and Spoon did with the Tim Tams and send these beauties as goodwill ambassadors around the world, but they don't travel well, so I'll just share the recipe and you can make your own.

Nanaimo Bars

(serves 25 and takes about 2-3/4 hours)

6 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Beat together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the egg and beat. Stir in the crumbs, coconut, pecans, and cocoa and beat till well mixed.

Evenly press dough into a buttered floured 8-inch square pan. Bake in a 350 deg. F. oven until slightly darker, about 20 minutes. Cool.

While the crust cools, in a mixing bowl beat together the 1/2 cup butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla till smooth. Spread over the cooled cookie base.

In a 1-2 qt. pan over low heat stir together the 2 tbsp butter and unsweetened chocolate till melted. Spread this over the filling.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until the filling is firm enough to cut neatly. Cut into 25 squares. Serve, or chill up to 3 days.


The oldest of the two annoying daughters of yours said...

Oh goodie, wood pulp... my favorite! ;-) I think this up coming year you should bake all chocolate things with coconut in them. That way, I'll feel zero temptation toward them, and I'll lose weight for the wedding.

Mandy said...

oh boy, this looks so yummy. I would be finishing the whole batch if I make it!

Kelly-Jane said...

I love Nanaimo Bars - and these look great, I need one, I do I need one...

Anh said...

Oh,. I had problem with navigation, too... When I first came to Melbourne, the local was talking about australian football (footy) and I was only familiar with soccer. But it was fun to learn so much more from a new place.

And your nanaimo bars look so wonderful!!!

eatme_delicious said...

Hey I had no idea we lived so close! Well I'm in Vancouver but still, that's neat. I didn't used to like nanaimo bars but I'm starting to like them. I think I just haven't had very many good ones. Also, since you live in Seattle, have you been to Theo Chocolates? It's an organic free trade chocolate company/factory. You can go on a tour of their factory for $5 and you get to try all of their chocolates. They have different kinds like bread & chocolate, curry & coconut, as well as single origin dark chocolate bars. Oh and they have all these delicious confections (earl grey, pb&j, scotch, etc). http://www.theochocolate.com/

eatme_delicious said...

Ah I meant fair trade, not free trade. I knew that sounded wrong.. don't mind me.

Brilynn said...

Those look perfectly gooey!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Haha, I was fooled into thinking they only had 6 Tablespoons of butter, ummm and then comes that half cup! Ouch! They do look so yummy!
I still haven't gotten myself oriented on the Seattle sky/mountains/water for directions.

Anne said...

That looks temptingly good! Who could actually resist that :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

These bars are totally new to me, Lynn, but I like them very much! :)

Blue Zebra said...

Beautiful lynn! You sure do navigate eloquently around your kitchen and that's all the counts in my book!!! :D


p.s. I suck at navigating too! Do you think it's something on the x chromosome?

Jerry said...

Oh yummy!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sarah - good call. The all coconut diet. The pounds will peel off!

Mandy - when you make them, make sure you have friends nearby to help you finish them off.

Kelly-Jane- Go make one, go make one...

Anh - you are so brave to move to a new country and new culture on a whole new continent! Snaps to you!

Eatme Delicious - well, howdy, neighbor. Drop on over for a cookie sometime. Theo's is on my to-do list. Have you been? I like free trade better than fair trade, but I guess they need to make a profit. :-) I'd trade cookies for chocolate!

Brilynn - Yes they are. Yumm.

My Kitchen In Half Cups - Sadly, these are NOT out of my low-fat cookbook. A great reason to share them all with friends. My daughter says I have the spiritual gift of making people fat. :-)

Anne - Well, someone who hates coconut (my daughter), but other than that, I don't know.

Patricia - Give them a try. You will like them, I know.

BZ - Aw, you're sweet. No, it's not the x chromosome. My son is the most pathetic navigator I know. He recently was at a wedding in central Wa. and heading back to Eastern Washington he hit Portland, Oregon.

Jerry - definitely!

Amy said...

Coming from NY to Seattle was quite the shock but now I absolutely love it here, especially on a nice day like today! These bars look fantastic!

eatme_delicious said...

Yes I have been to Theo's. The first time I attempted to go, I got lost downtown on all the one way streets. Very disappointing. The second time I made it there though and it was awesome. :) My favourites were the earl grey confection, jasmine green tea confection, vanilla milk chocolate bar and chai milk chocolate bar. They also sell cocoa nibs if that's something you've ever looked for. I found out about Theo's from David Lebovitz's site actually!

WokandSpoon said...

These look lovely! I never tried them when I went to Seattle all those years ago but will definitely add that to my list of things to do for the next time (if ever!) I'm in seattle!

Tartelette said...

They look wonderful! I wish I had known you when I moved to the US, everything was new: street signs. habits and of course foods. It would have made foe very interesting emails!

Amy said...

Ok I am aware that since I am bored and reading your old posts that I may appear stalkerish or scarry. Seriously just enjoying your blog! As a Canadian expat living in Arizona I was super suprise and thrilled to see nanimo bars!!! I totally had a moment with a woman in my belly dancing class this weekend when we comiserated about no one knowing what nanimo bars are here!!