Can you believe that I grew up in BC, loved Bake Sales at school, but had never had a Nanaimo Bar until this past Friday? It’s true, sometimes I can be unnecessarily stubborn.
I decided to make these because it looks like everyone is in Olympic spirits and making Nanaimo Bars to celebrate, so I hopped on the band wagon and made some to take into work. I followed the recipe to a T for the first batch, found on – where else – Nanaimo.ca. I loved the hint of cocoa that came through the crust, but felt it could be a bit heavier, and also thought the middle layer could be a little less sweet and a little more complex. So with that, I set out to make my own version the next day.
for the base
- 3.5 oz (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker or finely crushed cookie crumbs
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup pecans (chopped)
for the filling
- 4 tbsp butter (room temperature)
- 2 tbsp cream cheese (room temperature)*
- 3 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
- 1/8 cup (2 tbsp) milk or cream
- 2.5 cups icing sugar
*If you don’t have cream cheese, just replace with butter. I like the tartness the cream cheese adds to the icing.
for the topping
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp butter
Putting it all together
- Line an 8″ or 9″ square pan with parchment paper and set aside
- For the base, melt the butter in a heavy small pot, or over the double boiler in a heat-proof bowl. Once melted, using a wire whisk, whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and whisk again until smooth. Stir in coconuts, cookie crumbs, and pecans with a spatula. Press and pack the mixture into the bottom of the pan and put in fridge to cool.
- Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together for the filling. Add in the milk/cream and custard powder, beat until combined. Slowly, 1 cup at a time, beat in the icing sugar. Once it’s all mixed in together, whip on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Spread on top of the base, and set back into the fridge to set.
- Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler, in the microwave, or over the stove carefully. Pour onto the filling and put back into fridge to set.
- About 30 minutes after putting the bars in the fridge, score the bars with a sharp knife, wiping clean after each cut, to ensure that it’ll be easy to cut once everything sets.
- Cut into bars and enjoy!
You can also add sprinkles to the bars for a festive look, say, around Valentine’s Day?