Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Five – Nova Scotia – Oatcakes

Welcome to Week Five of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! A very Happy New Year to everyone. The holidays were such a whirlwind around here, with family from both sides visiting.  I again am forced to apologize for my inconsistency with my posts and I resolve to do better from here on out. Canada has been a bit more challenging than I had thought it would be, mostly because I have a household of non fish eaters and our neighbors to the north love their seafood. But I am trying and we will get through this.

This week we explore the province of Nova Scotia, the second smallest province.  The province itself is almost completely surrounded by water, with a mainland peninsula connected to New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island, which is across the Canso strait.

The name Nova Scotia is from Latin and means New Scotland. When I went looking for a recipe, I found that a simple baked good gives a serious nod to the Scottish heritage of the region. The item is called an Oatcake, and is super simple to make (one bowl, one baking sheet) and is found all over the province as a simple snack, usually served midday with tea. It is a sweet but also salty and has a light crunch to it. I have already bagged up a couple for my son to take to school tomorrow. He thought they were great.

oatcakes
Nova Scotia Oatcakes

I give this one a solid A, with a little work needed to get the thickness and baking time perfect to make it crunchy all the way through (the center was soft like an oatmeal cookie). Some recipes actually used a cutter to make them individual cakes before baking, but that seems to be too much work for something meant to be so simple. I think I will keep them just the way they are and look forward to making these again

Thanks for sticking with me and stopping by. See you next time in Ontario!

Nova Scotia Oatcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Oatmeal
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp Baking Soda
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Boiling Water

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the fat into the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour in the hot water and stir until everything comes together into a thick, sticky dough.
  4. Turn the dough onto the baking sheet. Flatten and shape it with your hands or roll it with a rolling pin to make it about ¼ – ½ inch thick and rectangle shape.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown. They should be crisp and crunchy, not chewy.
  6. While still warm, cut into squares, and then allow them to cool.

ns-oatcakes
Nova Scotia Oatcakes

Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Two – British Columbia – Nanaimo Bars

Welcome to Week Two of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! This week we explore the province of British Columbia, which has a long history as a populated area.

The history of British Columbia starts with the retreat of the great glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, and the crossing of people over the land bridge of the Bering Sea. These people were actually quite unique, in that they discovered plentiful food supplies in the area and became permanent settlers rather than nomads. They were able to focus less on survival and more on their culture. They developed complex languages, arts and strong ties to their region. The area remained this way for hundreds of years.

The first European explorers arrived in the area in the last 1700s, but it was not until the mid 1800s that gold was discovered and a mass of foreigners invaded the region. People from around the word came, as far away as China. Boomtowns emerged and similar to the Native American population, the aboriginal people were also decimated. The immigrants brought diseases that infected the local people and thousands died.

The area was originally claimed as Spanish territory, similar to the west coast of the United States, but was claimed as British territory with the fur trades. Interestingly, there was some dispute over BC as US territory during the same period that Washington, Oregon and California became US lands. In 1844, the US asserted that they held a legitimate claim to the Columbia District, but with the outbreak of the Mexican American War, then President Polk offered a compromise, drawing the official border between British North America and the United States at the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Trying to find a recipe for British Columbia was both simple and challenging. I really wanted to make an entrée, but I had a very hard time finding a dish that was quintessential BC. There are so many influences on the region, that I really couldn’t find one dish that said “British Columbia”. What I did find was a dessert that was truly so much BC, that it is named after a city in the province. That dessert is called Nanaimo Bars.

nanaimo-bars-bc
Nanaimo Bars from British Columbia CA

There are no real concrete stories as to where this dessert came from, but its first printed origin dates back to the early 1950s. There are several variations, but the original is what is most famous. And in my research, I found that it is made all over Canada, and is also a big treat around this time of year. Several posts of the recipe actually have Canadian comments stating that they didn’t know this was a “Canada thing”; they just thought everyone made them. They are so popular in British Columbia that most pastry shops sell them.

I made the original version. This is a decadent and delicious treat, with a crumbly chocolate coconut nutty base, a butter cream middle and a semi-sweet chocolate top. The recipe makes an 8×8 inch pan, which is more than enough to treat a mid size gathering because it is so rich. My only critique is that the base layer was a bit thick and sort of fell apart when you ate it. I am thinking that I would reduce the graham cracker crumbs next time to try to make it bind better.

But overall, this was really delicious and I understand why they are so popular. I would absolutely make these again, and am looking forward to slipping them into the dessert options on Thanksgiving Day. A nice alternative option to the pie choices I am already planning.

Thanks for stooping by. See you next week in Manitoba!

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (I would probably reduce this to 1 cup)
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut (I used unsweetened, although the original recipe did not distinguish)

Second Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Third Layer

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

For the bottom layer:

  1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Temper the egg and stir to cook and thicken (Roughly 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

For the second layer

  1. Cream butter, cream, pudding mix, and confectioner’s sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

For the third layer:

  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool.
  2. Once cool, but still liquid, pour and spread over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Cut into 1 inch squares and serve slightly chilled and with a tall glass of milk!

 

nanaimo-bars
Nanaimo Bars