Cherry nanaimo bars
These chocolate, cherry and custard bars are divine. Mahlab, a popular Middle Eastern spice, adds hints of rose and vanilla. Perfect for afternoon tea
- Serves: 12 persons
- 300g Nice biscuits
- 100g walnuts, chopped
- 415g salted butter, softened
- 2tsp mahlab
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1egg, beaten
- 300g icing sugar
- 5tbsp custard powder
- 4tbsp double cream
- 14amarena or maraschino cherries, chopped, plus 3 tbsp syrup
- 200g dark chocolate, chopped
Step 1Line a 20cm x 25cm baking tin with foil, covering the sides. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor to a fine rubble texture, then put in a bowl with the walnuts.
Step 2Melt 150g of the butter and the mahlab in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water’s surface. Add the caster sugar and cocoa powder, still on the heat, and whisk well until fully combined.
Step 3Remove the bowl from the heat and, whisking continuously, gradually pour in the egg. Return the bowl to sit on the pan of simmering water and heat for 1 min, whisking vigorously, until thickened. Pour the buttery-chocolate mixture over the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Pack the mixture into the base of the lined tin, patting down with your hands, into an even layer. Leave to refrigerate for 30 mins.
Step 4For the cherry-custard icing, use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat 200g of the butter until smooth. Next, add the icing sugar, custard powder and double cream, beating slowly, before beating in the chopped cherries and syrup. Spread over the chilled biscuit base in a smooth thick layer. Leave to refrigerate for 2 hrs.
Step 5For the topping, melt the chocolate in a clean bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave, then mix through the remaining butter until well combined. Spread over the custard layer and leave to refrigerate for another 2 hrs. Slice into 12 square bars with a warm knife to serve.