Friday, January 23, 2009

Nanaimo Bars

Do you remember this post on Kevin's delectable Closet Cooking? I remember seeing this and thinking. Holy crap, I must have one of these immediately if not sooner. Well, this post comes to us courtesy of my dear friend Liz from Montreal who made these wonderful treats for our New Year's Eve celebration. What?! Yes, I am still talking about NYE because we had THAT much food. Seriously, you guys would have been in awe of the spread we had. Anyway, after I saw Kevin's post I knew I wanted to try these, but I wasn't sure about the effort for just me. Then Liz took care of that for me and oh wow, YUM!! I usually limit myself in the number of sweets I eat, but these were amazing. There are so many flavors going on, but rather than compete with each other, they compliment each other and make one delicious treat. Bonus, these bars freeze really well. If you can't eat the whole thing, just pop em in the freezer for later. I had never heard of Nanaimo or it's bars until last month, and now I am completely obsessed. Try them and you will see. The recipe and Liz's thoughts are below.

Nanaimo Bars
(From The Joy of Baking)

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (Liz note: I went somewhere between coarse & fine).

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder (Liz note: I used Jell-O vanilla pudding powder)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered confectioners or icing sugar

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (Liz note: I used 1/4 cup of chips)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch or 8x8 pan (Liz note: I used an 8x8)

To make the bottom layer:

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

To make the filling:

In your electric mixer cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes). (Liz note: I added more of the vanilla custard & extract since it tasted too “sugary” and not “vanilla-y” enough...).

To make the top layer:

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the filling and refrigerate. (Liz note: I loathe double-boiling, but it was necessary for this since in the microwave the mix has a tendency to burn and that makes for an ugly top layer)

TO SERVE: To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

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Unknown said...

yeah, i must have one of these, too!!

Erica said...


ps please ask salad man out this weekend!

Diana said...

Mmmmmm those look amazing! I've never heard of Nanaimo Bars either, but I like the sound of them! And I really like the sound of "freezes well." I'm on a freeze everything kick lately!

P.S. My word verification for this comment is "eatingo." I find that extremely amusing!

Anonymous said...

I've heard about these yummy looking treats, but you know, this is the first time I've seen one. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't limit desserts if this was an option, either.The bars look amazing.

Anonymous said...

Anything that freezes well is a danger. Just means there's never a bad time to grab one. And these would surely be GRABBED!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Esi, I love you! This is such a devilishly wonderful dessert bar. You know how I am about chocolate. I'm going to write down the recipe and try it out in February. Then I'll post it in my Chocolate blog. Thanks my friend.

Hayley said...

I had never heard of these either, and was so intrigued when Kevin posted them a little while back. Thanks for sharing!

Donna-FFW said...

I love the fact that you can freeze these. They look fabulous.

Reeni said...

I have had these bookmarked for ages!! They do look so scrumptious and decadent! I have been known to eat frozen cake straight from the freezer like it was ice cream. I have such weak willpower!

Kristen said...

I love Nanaimo bars, especially when in Nanaimo, BC! Spent the summers of my childhood on a sailboat in the Gulf Islands and plenty of that time in Nanaimo Harbor snacking on the infamous bars. Its worth crossing the Straits of Georgia (which can be quite harrowing) for these scrumptious treats!

vanillasugarblog said...

I was dying to make this. You beat me to it. I had a feeling they had an amazing taste; flavors of tastes all at once.
You did a stellar job. I have to make these, soon.
Happy weekend Esi! We had 40 degree weather today, that would be the comparable 80 degrees for you! LOL!

Esi said...

Erica, tee hee :)

Diana, I have had three bars in my freezer since nye and I keep nibbling at them. I know, I am weird.

Teresa, can't wait to read about these when you make them!

Reeni, nothing wrong with frozen cake!

Kristen, wow! Crossing the Straits of Georgia? I am glad I didn't have to do anything so harrowing to get one of these, lol.

Dawn, you have a good weekend too! If it makes you feel any better it is finally "cold" and "rainy" here..aka 66 and drizzling :)

Anonymous said...

My grandmother makes these whenever I go to see her in Canada. She's always got some in the ice box! I'm going to have to try them myself, now.

Heather said...

i do not remember this post on kevin's site, but i certainly had a holy crap moment when i saw yours! it sounds delicious. i'm allergic to coconut, but i think i could find a delicious substitute! these sound so good!!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I have never had one, but I am pretty sure I would like it!

Sharon said...

I like everything about these! In my opinion, graham crackers make the world a better place :)

test it comm said...

Your nanaimo bars look great! Mine disappeared way to quickly. I will have to make some more soon.

Heidi Leon Monges said...


I think this Nanaimo Bars (never heard if it) are amazingly delicious and easy to cook!! Thanks for sharing this recipe.



Anonymous said...

I made these a few months ago and they were delicious! I just got around to posting about them and cited your blog.
Anything with chocolate and graham crackers is pretty much perfection in my book =)

My Yummy Life

CharlesR said...

I have to say that you missed out on the true flavour of the nanaimo bars by using pudding.

Here in Canada that is a sacrilege.

Pudding actually ruins the taste of them.

Diana: These bars are uniquely Canadian.
Made by a Mother in Nanaimo BC.

Esi said...

Charles, if you'd read the post, you would know these bars were made by a Canadian friend, so perhaps you can take your upset out on her.

CharlesR said...

Oh! Honey I'm not upset!

I was just giving you some information, so that maybe you would try these the way they should be.

But upset? Oh my dear ..No!

I've really been enjoying your blog.

Esi said...

Thanks, Charles