Bird Watching in Niagara

image003People from all over head to the Niagara region for a host of excellent reasons: the sight and sound of all that rushing water, the picturesque vineyards and the award-winning wines they produce, as well as the world-class performers and shows available throughout the year — to name a few, and while these reasons account for why most people visit, for the bird lover, bird watching is another reason to plan a trip to Niagara Falls. Here are a handful of bird-heavy places for the birder who finds himself in the Honeymoon Capital of the World.

The Niagara River

The Niagara River is arguably the best place in North America to watch gulls, and the view from the Canadian side is decidedly better than it is from the American side, which is more industrial and built up. Over the years, 19 different species of gull have been spotted on the Niagara River — the largest number of species ever recorded in one area in all of North America — and most years find anywhere from 12 to 14 frequenting the place during migration. Gulls you can expect to see include:

  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Ring-Billed Gull
  • Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  • Greater Black-Backed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • California Gull

Of course, the Niagara River isn’t just a place to see gulls; ducks, geese, and swans also abound and make for an exciting day of birding.

image001Beamer Memorial Conservation Area

While they can be spied any time of year, the spring migration is a great time to see your fair share of raptors — hawks and bald eagles — from the viewing platforms set up at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, which is located on the Niagara Escarpment. The view itself is stunning here, but it’s the experience of the birds that’s most memorable. Instead of just sightings, however, you’ll get to experience these impressive predators at work, soaring, and diving through the sky as they keep a keen eye out for food below.

Mud Lake Conservation Area

Located next to the Old Welland Canal in Port Colborne, this conservation area includes over 160 acres of woodlands, field, and wetlands, and because it’s situated on a migratory path, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to see a wide range of birds. Rare bird sightings have been recorded here — and not just by expert birders, either. If you make the trek out to Mud Lake, you may see the following:

  • Great Horned Owl
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Wood Duck
  • American Black Duck
  • Black Crowned Night Heron

The Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area

A former limestone and clay quarry, this conservation area is a wealth of natural diversity, and it boasts over 50 species of bird, as well as plenty of fish, turtles, snakes, and plants. Birds that are readily sighted include yellow warblers, terns, sandpipers, egrets, gulls, and great blue herons. You can also see fossils of the flora and fauna that lived in the sea that covered the area 350 million years ago in the rocks walls and tables exposed by the quarry.

If you’re due for a bird-watching retreat, come to Niagara, where gulls, raptors, and warblers can be seen throughout the year.

Why Niagara Is the Perfect Place to Drink Local Wine

image001For most vacationers, one of the best parts about traveling to a new spot is experiencing that place’s food and drink. Kentucky has bourbon. The American South has sweet tea. Maine has lobsters, and Prince Edward Island has oysters and mussels.

In Niagara, the largest pull for the out-of-towner has always been the stunning and eponymous cataracts, but increasingly, the local wine scene is becoming its own reason to visit. And why shouldn’t it be?

The Niagara Peninsula is one of the most celebrated viticultures in the entire world thanks to the many award-winning wines and wineries in the region. With more ice wine in production here than anywhere else on the planet, the area is practically synonymous with the stuff, but grapes of almost every variety are grown here, harvested, and made into stellar wine. If you’re a oenophile looking for a North American vacation that isn’t along the American west coast, here are a handful of reasons to book a stay in Niagara — the perfect place to drink local wine.

It’s Beautiful Here

While it’s common to gaze upon the vines that grew the grapes you’re drinking at almost any winery, the landscape in Niagara is breathtaking. European-style vineyards and family farms make up the bulk of the countryside creating a view that is lovingly and lusciously maintained. When you drink glass of wine at a Niagara winery, the nostalgic beauty of the place is an inherent part of why the experience is so exceptional.

The Tours Are Great

image003Because the winemakers in Niagara know that selling wine is as much an art form as making it, many of them offer great tours that give an insider’s view of their specific winemaking processes and philosophies. Whether you know a lot about how wine is made or not, the following tours are well worth your time:

  • Flat Rock Cellars. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, this tour features stunning views of Lake Ontario, a beautiful, glass-enclosed tasting room, and walks through the vineyards and barrel room.
  • Stratus Winery. This modern winery is fully LEED-certified and practices low-yield viticulture — a unique and sustainable approach to farming and winemaking.
  • Inniskillin Winery. The winery that first showed the world what Ontario wines, and especially ice wines were made of, a tour of Inniskillin is a must for anyone in the area, especially since much of the tour takes place in a barn from the 1920s.

The Wine Is Exceptional

Perhaps the best reason to visit Niagara to experience the wine. Ice wine is the most lauded, but plenty of wineries make an excellent Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Pinot noir, and more.

Since you can’t try everything — the region has over 13,600 acres planted in grapes that will be made into wine — choose a handful of wineries known to produce a good product, including some of the smaller, lesser-known makers with solid reputations, and chauffeur your palate around. Some of the best local wine can be had at:

  • Pillitteri Estates Winery
  • Hillebrand Estates
  • Five Rows Craft Winery
  • Pondview Estate

From the way it looks to the way it tastes, Niagara is the perfect place to drink some of the best local wine on the planet.

Antiquing in the Niagara Region

image001The Niagara region boasts numerous ways to while away the hours, whether you’re alone or in the company of a loved one or two. From vineyards and tasting rooms to museums and hiking trails, the area is resplendent with a wide variety of enjoyments that are able to satisfy just about anyone.

Antiquing in and around Niagara Falls, while it rarely makes headlines, is one of those enjoyments. If you love looking through old records and eyeballing Art Deco furniture, here are some spots you have to visit the next time you stay in Niagara Falls.

Forum Galleries and Antiques

Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this antique store and gallery is a favorite of interior designers and collectors, because the antiques in this store include plenty of pieces that could go directly from the showroom into your home. The owner is a very experienced buyer, seller, and appraiser, so with everything from tapestries and furniture to art, you can be certain your find is authentic and high-quality. Forum Galleries and Antiques is open every day except Tuesday.

Effingham Hills Antiques

This small shop is just a stone’s throw from the falls. Located in Ridgeville — a small village in the town of Pelham — you’ll find late Victorian through 20th century furniture here, and the store also has plenty of excellent glassware, antique lamps, and beautiful linens. The owners of Effingham Hills Antiques pride themselves on offering high-quality items at very low prices, so you may even come away with some true bargains.

Lakeshore Antiques & Treasures

With over 7,000 square feet filled with antiques and collectibles from numerous antique dealers in the area, Lakeshore Antiques & Treasures is a browser’s and a buyer’s paradise. 16 rooms are organized around themes for efficient shopping. Themes include: glass, furniture, military memorabilia, linens, vinyl records, furniture, and more. This storehouse of antiques and other great finds is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake and is open seven days a week.

S & B Antique Gallery

image003Known for an impressive stock of vintage furniture, as well as vintage and estate jewelry, Royal Doulton figurines, and sterling silver, this antique store sits in the heart of Jordan Village. The finds within its walls have all been handpicked from across Europe and North America, and all the furniture is cleaned and waxed before it’s placed into the showroom. They are open seven days a week.

Niagara Coin and Collectibles

A pawn shop with excellent taste, Niagara Coin and Collectibles has everything from vintage watches and military memorabilia to cameras, collectible coins, and guns. Located in downtown Niagara Falls, this shop has an excellent reputation, which is one of the reasons they’ve been in business for almost 30 years. They were recently featured on the History Channel’s “Pawnathon Canada,” and they’re open Tuesday through Saturday.

Antiques on the Ridge

Located in Ridgeway, this antique store boasts a wide selection of excellent furniture from armoires and coat stands to beds and dining tables, but furniture is just the tip of the ice berg. Antique clocks, beautiful estate jewelry, vintage garden furniture and more are just some of what you’ll see in this well-curated shop.

The Niagara region is home to scores of entertaining things to do, but for the lover of unique goods and fine furniture made a long time ago, antiquing is one of the area’s best offerings.

Where to Pick Your Own Fruit Around Niagara

image001The Niagara Falls region is home to quite a few excellent farms, many of which specialize in growing fruit, and while some travelers to the region satisfy themselves with the simple and pleasurable act of drinking local wine and eating local food while ogling the impressive display of the waterfalls, many visitors to the Niagara area hope to experience a bit of the rich countryside for themselves.

Thankfully, due to the ubiquity of farms and the amiable nature of the vast majority of the farmers who tend them, such rich and hands-on experiences can be had. If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the Niagara region, book your stay, and head to one of these area farms to pick your own delicious fruits and berries.

1. Berry Patch

This farm boasts a wonderful array of berries, including gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, as well as red and black currants. For the months of July and August — provided that the weather has cooperated and is continuing to do so — visitors to the farm can wander among the lush farm’s ripe crops and pick the choicest berries they can find. Be sure to call ahead just in case conditions are less than desirable.

2. Ridge Berry Farm

Situated on 27 acres in the middle of the Niagara Peninsula, most of Ridge Berry Farm has been put toward more cash-friendly crop production, but they still boast a few small and fertile patches of excellent fruit where you can pick purple raspberries, blackberries, juneberries (also called saskatoons), arctic kiwis, mulberries and Concord grapes, and they have a small smattering of apple varieties — McIntosh, Empire, and Pippin — too.

3. Cherry Avenue Farms

This family farm has been owned and operated by the Moyer family since 1799. Visitors can pick their own peaches, nectarines, peaches, pears, apricots, cherries, and plums depending upon the month and what’s in season. Cherry Avenue is a great place to enjoy a picnic, and they also offer tractor rides. Should you have someone in your party who is in a wheelchair, this farm is handicap accessible, and the paths are well-maintained.

4. Mathias Farms

image003Another family farm that’s currently owned and operated by a brother and sister team, Mathias Farms grows sweet and sour cherries, mulberries, pears, apples, blackberries, red currants, red raspberries, and black raspberries, and they’re all available to pick yourself provided you’ve arrived when your fruit of choice is in season. They also sell nine different types of fruit jam at their fruit stand, among other things, and they’re able to accept large groups, so long as you’ve made an appointment.

5. Parkway Orchards

Set along the Niagara Parkway, Parkway Orchards specializes in pick your own cherries, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, and plums. Their farm shop, where you can purchase gifts, syrups, baked goods, honey, sandwiches, drinks, ice cream and more, is almost as popular as their fruit, and the whole place is situated just minutes from Niagara Falls.

6. Two Century Farm

This farm has enjoyed five generations of Smith family ownership since 1788. The farm’s first owner and operator was John Smith, who found his way to the land via New Jersey. Today, the farm continues to thrive due to its excellent location, high-quality soil, and exceptional fruit. Call ahead from July through October to schedule a time to pick some of Two Century Farm’s fruit for yourself.

Taste Niagara like you’ve never tasted it: With the delicious fruit of both the rich and fertile land and your own labor.

Take a Trip on the Niagara Beer Trail

image001Beer lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and they routinely come from all over the world to take in the majesty and wonder known as Niagara Falls. While the Niagara region is routinely heralded as an excellent place to get world-class wines, there are a surprising amount of quality breweries and beers to be enjoyed in the area as well.

Whether you’re relishing a romantic getaway in one of the city’s best hotels’ suites or you’re lucky enough to be in Niagara Falls on business, here is a look at the Niagara Beer Trail — a must-do for beer lovers who find themselves in the Honeymoon Capital of the World.

The Gist

A self-guided, multi-media tour, the Niagara Beer Trail takes you to six different stops in the Niagara region. Throughout the tour, you’ll be able to take brewery tours, sample unique beer offerings, and, if you get hungry, enjoy a meal at one of the breweries’ on-site restaurants. Most of the breweries keep their beer recipes simple and straightforward whether they’re making lagers or lambics, and they rely on ingredients produced locally, putting the fecundity of the region to good use and benefitting from the established quality for which Niagara farms are known. While a much smaller industry than Niagara’s wine, this tour concisely shows the excellence and commitment to quality present in Niagara’s nascent craft brew scene.

Some of the Breweries

image003Here are four of the six stops you can make along the tour:

  • The Merchant Ale House Restaurant Brewpub. Started in a basement, this St. Catherines blue-collar-feeling pub brews their beer on-site without preservatives, and you can find everything here from ales and lagers to berry-flavored beers. Two of the more popular offerings are the Blonde Bombshell Blonde and the Old Time Hockey Ale, a chocolate malt amber ale that was the first beer the Merchant Ale House ever made. There is also a restaurant on site should you need a snack to keep your blood-alcohol level in check.
  • Oast House Brewers. This microbrewery uses local ingredients in all their brews and in their on-site restaurant. Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this brew house was founded by three locals with experiences in the local wine industry as well as beer production. Oast House provides an excellent brewery tour, and their zealous commitment to small batch craft brewing shines through in every tasting. Notable beers include a Belgian-style Saison and the Barnraiser Country Ale.
  • Silversmith Brewing Company. Started in 2012, this craft brewery makes its beer in a beautiful, old, vine-covered church. Following the patterns established by the local wine industry, Silversmith has quickly gotten its beers into the bars, restaurants, and events throughout Ontario. Their Black Lager is one of their best and most popular.
  • Taps on Queen Brewhouse and Grille. This Niagara Falls brewhouse is owned and operated by two families, who first got their start as ambitious home brewers. Their complementary tour allows visitors a good look at their brewing process. Their tasting at the end of the tour costs a small amount, but it’s worth it to sample a variety of their excellent beer, so you can make an informed decision about what to get a pint of. Syndicate Restaurant and Brewery, the last stop on the beer trail, is the sister brewhouse to Taps.

Whether you’re a beer aficionado or just someone who appreciates a cold brew now and then, spend some time on Niagara’s Beer Trail, where the art and craft of brewing are serious business.

A Tiny Guide to Some of Niagara’s Best New Wineries

image001The Niagara region’s reputation for fertile land, excellent wines, and beautiful vineyards has been established for some time now. The soil, climate, and topography of the Niagara Peninsula is remarkably diverse, with microclimates ideal for producing grapes with more complex and abundant flavor than warmer climes, resulting in a wide variety of stellar wines.

Of all the viticulture areas in Canada, none plant as many grapes as Niagara, with over 32 varietals and more than 13,500 planted acres. Because of the region’s excellent terroir, soil, and reputation, new wineries consistently crop up in a quest to make a mark among the already excellent wineries in the area. The next time you plan a vacation to Niagara Falls, take a look at this handful of the more promising newcomers trying their hand at keeping up with the Joneses in the Niagara Peninsula.

PondView Estate Winery

A winery whose tradition reaches back three generations into the vineyards of Sicily, PondView Estate Winery is a new addition to the Four Mile Creek appellation. Family-owned and operated — like many of the Niagara Peninsula’s wineries — PondView excels in producing wines according to traditional practices. They’re so good at doing it that Lou Luciano — one of two in charge of operations at PondView — was given the title Grape King by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2008, an award that goes to the operator of the best vineyard in all of Ontario.

Five Rows Craft Wine of Lowrey Vineyards

Notably started in 1984 when the co-founder of Inniskillin, Karl Kaiser, asked Howie Lowery to plant five rows of pinot noir for use in Inniskillin’s award-winning wines, what is now known as Five Rows spent the next two and a half decades as a vineyard that grew and sold high-quality grapes to other wineries. These days, 35 acres of Lowrey land are dedicated to their own craft wine endeavor, resulting in top-quality wines every bit as good as the French make. The entire winemaking operation is housed in a one-room barn that houses fermenting tanks, oak barrels, a tasting area, and cases of wine ready for purchase, giving the entire place a nostalgic feel.

Hinterbrook Winery

image003An eco-focused winery, the people at Hinterbrook are committed to producing top-quality wines by utilizing the latest in technology in an environmentally sound and sustainable way. Each grape is handpicked and hand-sorted — just the beginning of a completely artisanal approach to making wine overseen by winemaker, Natalie Spytkowsky. While all the wines produced by Hinterbrook are of premium quality, their Franc Blanc, Cabernet Franc Icewine, Rose, and Riesling are especially impressive.

Two Sisters Vineyards

Started by sisters Angela Marotta and Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyards is another new, premium winery committed to exceptional winemaking whose focus is on their vineyard in order to allow their one-of-a-kind terroir and the grapes it produces to remain center stage. Winemaker Adam Pearce is committed to a non-interventionist approach to winemaking so that the true character of each grape is never overshadowed by the winemaking process. One of the highlights of this vineyard and winery is its on-site Italian-inspired restaurant, Kitchen 76, where the cuisine is crafted from locally sourced ingredients.

The wines of the Niagara Peninsula continue to grow in reputation world-wide, and these four newcomers to the scene are hoping to ensure that tradition continues far into the future.

Where to Get a Birds-Eye View of Niagara Falls

image001When you are standing in Queen Victoria Park, you can look out onto the Falls, feel the mist on your skin, and listen to the thundering river rush past. When you venture below, on the legendary Maid of the Mist or the Journey Behind the Falls, you can hear and see up close the power of the mighty Niagara and get drenched by its massive spray. However, it is only when you travel high into the air, to see the waterfalls and the surrounding region from above, can you truly appreciate the beauty and brawn of Niagara Falls.

In the long history of the Falls, most visitors have been resigned to viewing the natural wonder from a handful of lookouts positioned around Niagara Parks. However, as soon as Niagara became a vacation destination, savvy architects began experimenting with structures and towers that allow alternative vantage points of the fantastic falls. If you are staying in Niagara Falls sometime soon, you can’t miss the unparalleled scenery provided at these high-up locations.

Brocks Monument

The first endeavor to provide travelers with new perspectives on the Falls, Brocks Monument was first constructed in 1824 as a tribute to British Major General Isaac Brock, who was a fierce leader during the War of 1812. Unfortunately, in 1840, agitators against Britain’s continued domination of Canada blew up the monument.

However, this tragedy led to the construction of a newer, better Brocks Monument in the 1850s, and it is this second monument that still stands in Queenston Heights today. The tower is 184 feet tall, and visitors can climb to a small observation deck to look out over the countryside.

Prospect Point Observation Tower

Not to be outdone by their northern neighbors, architects on the American side of Niagara began constructing their own tower in 1888. Sprouting out of Tower Hotel and looking over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, Moose Tower Observatory boasted elevators — unlike Brocks Monument — that brought visitors to any of its multiple viewing platforms on the way to the top of the 250-foot-tall steel tower. It was such a superbly soaring structure that inventor Guglielmo Marconi used Moose Tower to transmit one of the world’s first wireless messages. Unfortunately. Moose Tower was dismantled and shipped to St. Louis, leaving Americans without an observation point for half a century.

In the early 1960s, Americans once again began construction on an astounding tower to call their own. This new lookout was built at Prospect Point, the busiest and most beautiful place in American Niagara, and looks out over much of the Niagara region. This 282-foot-tall tower still stands proudly today.

Skylon Towerimage003

Yet, a much more impressive architectural feat was already in the works when Prospect Point’s tower was completed. In the heart of downtown Niagara Falls, Ontario, engineers set to work constructing Skylon Tower. Reaching more than 520 feet into the crisp, Niagara air, Skylon was and is the most remarkable lookout in the region, providing unprecedented views of all three waterfalls and the surrounding landscape.

Skylon provides not only jaw-dropping views, but shopping and restaurants for Niagara visitors to enjoy. The eatery at the top observation deck makes for an excellent space to watch the nightly fireworks.

All About the Niagara Movement

CrowneBlog7.jpegNiagara Falls has a long, strong tie to black history. As one of the ending points for the Underground Railroad, which funneled escaped slaves to Canada where slavery was wholly illegal by that time, the rushing Falls heralded true liberty to African-Americans fleeing unjust enslavement. A proud black community has thrived in the region since the 19th century, and countless important events in civil rights have taken place on Niagara’s shores — including the Niagara Movement.

A monumental development in black culture, the Niagara Movement marked a new era of civil rights filled with choices for the African-Americans all over the continent. This February, during your trip or vacation to Niagara Falls, revel in the profound history of Niagara’s black community for Black History Month, and learn about the significant advances of the Niagara Movement.

A Country in Turmoil

Though blacks in America had gained unprecedented levels of freedom after the North won the American Civil War, Southern states continued to enforce restrictions on African-American rights. For example, segregation laws became more restrictive, and voting laws were amended to exclude blacks from polling places. The most powerful African-American orator at the time, Booker T. Washington, argued that blacks shouldn’t agitate politically for equivalence with whites, which enraged dozens of prominent African-American activists who sought equality above all else.

Two such irate men, W.E.B. Du Bois and William Trotter, staunchly and vociferously opposed Washington’s stance. Du Bois and Trotter often advocated taking action, but despite several confrontations with Booker and his followers, the pair were largely ignored. However, by 1905, it was the view of many that Washington’s passive methods were not fulfilling the black community’s needs.

A Meeting for Change

CrowneBlog8.jpegFed up with the lack of progress from Washington’s passivism, Du Bois, Trotter, and a handful of other furious and motivated African-Americans planned to meet in Buffalo, New York in 1905 to discuss forming a more powerful activist group that could effect change. However, after being refused accommodation in Buffalo, the group relocated north of the border to a hotel in southern Ontario where they would not be bothered by press or dissenters. Due to the location of the group’s formation, they quickly identified as the Niagara Movement.

During their first meeting the group organized their founding principles, namely:

  • Unrestricted suffrage for all male blacks.
  • Equal treatment for all.
  • Equal economic opportunities, particularly for blacks in the South who continued to labor in “virtual slavery.”
  • Compulsory, free education for all.
  • Equal punishments for all criminals, regardless of race.
  • And other demands for equality under law and culture.

By the end of the year, the founding members had established 21 chapters of the movement containing a total of 170 members. The movement created two different publications, “The Moon” and “The Horizon,” to rally support from black and white communities alike. The Niagara Movement’s efforts did, in fact, effect change in several states: In Massachusetts, the movement thwarted lawful segregation in railroad cars, and race riots around the country brought attention to the continued struggles of blacks.

Its Ripples in History

However, due to organizational problems at the foundation of the movement — including a lack of physical headquarters — the movement’s power petered out around 1910. Though the Niagara Movement was short-lived, it has always been considered a crucial precursor to the immensely powerful National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Niagara Falls’ involvement in one of the first activist groups battling racial injustice in the 20th century is undeniably important, which is why the Niagara region is such a profound place to visit during Black History Month.

Crowne Plaza Hosts Niagaralicious Feb. 20th To March 13th

niagaralicious-784x290Niagara Falls has a lot to offer in the way of spectacular scenery and first-rate cuisine, and Falls Avenue Resort is offering an opportunity for people to experience it all. Niagaralicious is a brand new dining and hotel experience in the heart of Niagara Falls that allows guests to choose between specially tailored menus and amazing Fallsview dining at The Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra, Windows by Jamie Kennedy, and Fallsview Buffet Restaurant, and exciting themed dining at Hard Rock Café Niagara Falls. Guests can pair their dining experience with a stay at the first-rate Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview and Sheraton on the Falls and indulge in all of the spectacular accommodations, cuisine, and sights that make Niagara Falls so wonderful.

Canadian Cooking: How to Make Nanaimo Bar

CrowneBlog5.jpegThough Nanaimo, British Columbia is far away from Niagara Falls, Ontario, the two cities are inseparably linked by an infamous Canadian treat: Nanaimo bars. These gooey, layered, no-bake sweets are among top favorites of children and adults alike throughout Canadian provinces and on your next trip to Niagara Falls, you are more than likely to spot a tower or two in bakery windows everywhere.

However, if you are itching to start your vacation early, you can quickly and easily whip up a batch of Nanaimo bars in your home kitchen. With a few familiar supplies and some hungry helpers, you’ll feel like you’re north of the border in no time.

The Traditional Recipe

Different recipes for the iconic Nanaimo bar have been floating around Canada since the 1950s, but since a contest held by the Nanaimo mayor in 1986, one recipe has stood out from the rest. The following is the best beloved recipe for regular Nanaimo bars, as created by Ms. Joyce Hardcastle of Nanaimo.

First layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa together in a double boiler (not a microwave). Add the egg, and stir; the egg should cook and thicken the mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and press firmly into an ungreased 8-inch by 8-inch pan.

Second layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Cream all four ingredients together, and continue beating until mixture is light. Spread evenly over first layer.

Third Layer:

  • 4 one-ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt both ingredients over low heat to combine, then let cool. Once cool, pour over second layer. Chill in the refrigerator until third layer is hard, then cut into manageable bars and enjoy.

Variations

CrowneBlog6.jpegOf course, that was the most basic form of Nanaimo bar, which provides diners with a simple and pleasurable combination of crumble, custard, and chocolate. Innovative bakers love to experiment with this fundamental formula to craft even more creative concoctions. Here are some of the more exciting and exotic Nanaimo bar variations to come out of Canadian kitchens:

  • Maple Nanaimo bars. It wouldn’t be truly Canadian if we couldn’t make it maple-flavored. To make these patriotic treats, add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to the first layer and 1 1/2 tablespoons dark maple syrup to the second layer.
  • Blondie Nanaimo bars. Surprisingly, some people don’t find pleasure in the thick chocolate topping of Nanaimo bars. To please them, you can make Nanaimo bars with a thinner white chocolate third layer by substituting the butter and chocolate with 3/4-cup white chocolate chips.
  • Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo bars. The small amount of saltiness provided by the Canadian bacon makes these bars some of the best. Follow the maple recipe for the second layer and the blondie recipe for the third layer, but add two tablespoons brown sugar and two teaspoons maple syrup to the white chocolate, and sprinkle with cooked bits of Canadian bacon.
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