Finally Getting into the Christmas Spirit.

There isn’t going to be a TIL segment this week because I was a bit sick all week and didn’t really get out to do anything.  Sorry!  But in exchange, I’m going to give you a great recipe to try!

So, it’s taken me a little longer this year to get into the Christmas Spirit than normal.  Normally the first week of  December I start playing Christmas music and begging Terra to let me put up our little tiny Christmas Tree (to which she always denies until she’s done her finals).  This also marks my first Christmas completely away from family, which makes it tough…that, and the lack of an oven to make cookies doesn’t help it.  Yesterday however, my mood took a sudden turn for the better…all do to a simple act:

Watching The Hobbit with my friends Sylvia and Tim at the Sinchon Megabox Theater.

Now, this may seem like a strange thing to get me in the Christmas mood, but every year, for a very long time, there has always been one day during the Christmas break where everyone who is at home (usually 6-8 of us) converges to the basement around noon to sit and watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish in one sitting.  Of course there is a small intermission between the movies for bathroom and snack fetching breaks, but we spend the better part of a day cuddled up on the couches draped over each other.  Watching something that reminded me of that time flicked a little switch in my brain.

And to make matters even better, I found a recipe that only requires stove top cooking!  Nanaimo bars!  For anyone who doesn’t know, Nanaimo bars are a Canadian desert that originate from Nanaimo, BC in the 1950s by a Mabel Jenkins who submitted the recipe as part of a fundraiser.  I hadn’t actually known that this was a Canadian recipe until I did a google search for different recipes a few days ago.  When I asked my friends here if they had ever heard of them, I got blank stares and a few head shakes.  Well, time to introduce them!

As I mentioned in my last post I was going to go searching for the ingredients on Saturday.  I was pretty excited to find them all, save pure vanilla.  All they had was a butter-vanilla extract, which is going to work just as fine.  They also didn’t have graham cracker crumbs, but I did find digestive cookies which are kind of the same thing.  The majority of the ingredients were actually pretty easy and cheaper than I was expecting (each bag is 100g and was ~1,400 원).  The chocolate was a bit more expensive at ~2,000원 a package and butter was 6,750 원 for 450g.  I only need 1 cup for the recipe, but one cup of butter was the same price as almost 2 cups, so I did the cost efficient thing.

I found these great nanaimo bar recipes at Rock Recipes, a website run by a guy out of Newfoundland.  I really want to try making the raspberry or chocolate orange versions, but I couldn’t find a few of the ingredients so I’m just going to may plain ol’ vanilla nanaimo bars.  His pinterest board also has over 100 cookie/bar recipes that I want to make as well!…gah the lack of a oven!!

Any hoo, on to the recipe!  The process of this is separated into three stages: the crust, the filling, and the topping.  There is about an hour or so gap between stages because you need to chill each layer.

The Crust:

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For the crust you start off with 1/2 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 5 Tbsp of cocoa powder.  You melt all the ingredients together and then add 1 beaten egg.

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After the  egg has been fully cooked (and resembles very soft scrambled eggs), add in 1 3/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 3/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, and 1/2 cup of crushed walnuts.

Remove from heat and mix all the ingredients together.

Then, after lining a 9×9″ pan with parchment paper press in the mixture, spreading it to all the corners, making it as even as possible.

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Now, after this step I had a bit of a problem…When I was in the baking aisle at Home Plus, they didn’t have any plain ol’ sugar, so I took the small bag marked ‘New Sugar’….I really wish I hadn’t.  I found it made the crust taste awfully bitter when I checked it.  I tried to counteract it with some of my extra powder sugar from for the filling, but we’ll see…

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After that’s done, put it in the freezer and wait.  You could probably start the filling as soon as you put the crust in the freezer.  It doesn’t have to be solid, just firm enough that you can spread the filling without disturbing the crust.

The Filling:

To make the filling, you take 1/2 cup of butter, 2 cups of icing sugar, and 2 tsp of vanilla extract and beat until smooth.  This was a little trick for me without an electric beater, but boy did my arms get a work out! ^^

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After the mixture is smooth, it’s time to spread it over the crust.  The filling should be quite stiff, but spreadable.  If it is too stiff and doesn’t want to spread nicely over the crust, you can add a little bit of milk until it is more agreeable.

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After you spread it evenly over the crust, place in the fridge for a few hours to set.

The Topping:

The top layer of nanaimo bars is simply a layer of chocolate…which is also the hardest step in my opinion.  I don’t know what it is, but I have a hard time melting chocolate; double boiler or not.   I employed the microwave method this time (due to a lack of pots I could use).  To do this, you take all of your ingredients: 1 cup chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp of butter, and place them in a microwave bowl.

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Because I’m not sure how strong this microwave is, I opted for 20 second intervals.  Place in the microwave and mix after every 20 seconds.  Melting chocolate in the microwave can be a little tricky because you can’t watch it melt.  I’ve burned more than one batch of chocolates by doing one too many intervals. image

Regardless, this batch turned out rather well.  After the chocolate is all melted, take and spread over the filling layer of your nanaimo bar and place back in the fridge to set.

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Ta-da!! Holiday confection for the win!

Now, after much contemplation over the crust, and while the initial taste is good, it is quickly followed by a rapidly bitter after taste.  It’s less if you eat it with the chocolate layer on  your tongue, but still, as someone who doesn’t generally fail at desserts, this bothers me.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Crack off the crust, melt more chocolate, and sell them off as butter cream chocolates ^^

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season!

Till next time!

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3 thoughts on “Finally Getting into the Christmas Spirit.

  1. Hi Sami…..I won’t ask how are you as we have been following your adventures….so entertaining for us. You appear to be having an ever-changing cultural experience and so much discovery….that’s awesome. I actually just noted this e-mail today again and noted that I haven’t responded to you for which I apologize. We are so happy for you that you are fulfilling one of your dreams, and that you managed to conquer the ‘Christmas Blues’ so-to-speak. It must have been really difficult for you but I truly loved your story of going to Church on Christmas Eve and being “adoped” by one of the Church-going families…..that is your Guardian Angel, my girl! I simply love to hear beautiful stories such as this. I think your bud, Steven, also enjoys tremendously, following your adventures and maybe even wishing it were he that was in Korea?! You two must have a kazillion things to always talk about….how nice is that! We still recall your time at Jan and Kens’ home….we sure enjoyed your company! Betting your family misses you a whole bunch! You likely know of Jan’s injury….she is a real trooper but well on here way with becoming fully ambulatory once again. She said she might come here later on for a bit of a change of pace (and climate) before she returns to work….we’re excited and will definitely be spoiling her, enjoying her good nature and making her feel like a Princess….it’s definitely her turn after the trauma she has been through! Nice to chat with you Sami…again my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. Wishing you well, and have fun! xo, Mary and Jim

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