Nanaimo bars were one of my favourite treats that my grandmother would make. Whenever we had a family get together, a baby shower, wedding shower etc. we would have Nanaimo bars. They are a treat that you don’t usually make unless it is for a special occasion, however, they are really quite simple to assemble and require no baking which would make them a great dessert for anytime.
While I was going to make them the traditional way – a three layer decadent and sweet square, I had an idea.
While preparing the custard layer I thought I might use a piping bag to pipe the filling on first, then spread it evenly on top with an offset spatula. Then it hit me – why not just use the piping bag to pipe the filling into rosettes and then cut them into squares before adding the chocolate?
One of the hardest things I find when making Nanaimo bars is cutting them once the chocolate has hardened. It’s difficult to make them into perfect squares because the chocolate cracks and breaks when you cut into it, especially once it is cold. However my aunt who is the queen of Nanaimo bars (and learned from my Grandma) always made them perfectly.
I thought it would be much easier to cut them before adding the chocolate, then drizzle it on top as a decoration. I also find that because the filling is so sickeningly sweet sometimes that the extra slice of chocolate on top almost sends you into a sugar coma. This way you still get the combination of chocolate and custard filling, only on a much smaller scale.
And truthfully – my favourite part was always the base. I love the combination of coconut, chocolate, graham crumbs and walnuts. I could just eat the base without the sweet toppings.
These bars as extra special because they hail from a small town on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, which the dessert was named for (although there have been other claims). However at the end of the day a Nanaimo bar, is a Nanaimo bar.
This is the recipe my grandmother and aunt use and it is my favourite. Of course, you can still make it the traditional way by spreading the filling then pouring the chocolate over top and slicing it into squares. In my opinion, they look much prettier this way.
- 1cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 up Sugar
- 10 tbsp. Cocoa
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 1/4 cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
- 3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
- 2 cup coconut
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
- 2 Tbsp. Birds Custard Powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 4 squares Dark Chocolate
- 1/2 Tbs. Butter
- In the top of a double boiler (if you do not own one, place a glass or metal bowl over top of a sauce pan filled with simmering water) melt together the butter, sugar and cocoa.
- In a small bowl beat the egg. Slowly whisk it into the melted butter and cocoa mixture. Continue to whisk until it thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in the crumbs, coconut and chopped walnuts.
- Press mixture into an ungreased 9"x13" pan and place in fridge.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment whip the butter until pale and creamy. Add the almond milk and custard powder and continue to beat. Slowly add the icing sugar and whip until the consistency of frosting.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- Take the chilled base out of the fridge. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the base in 1" sections, drawing lines horizontally first then vertically.
- Using the piping bag, pipe rosettes on to the middle of each 1" scored square section. Repeat until entire surface is covered. Place in fridge, covered.
- Allow to set in fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want the base to set and harden completely. Once it is hardened, remove it and use a dough scraper or sharp knife to cut the bars all the way through, then lift them out carefully with a fork.
- Finally, after you have sliced the bars fully into squares place them onto a cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath. Melt the Chocolate and butter in the microwave in 1 minutes intervals, stirring until fully melted. Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag or piping bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle the melted chocolate over top of the bars. Place aside to allow chocolate to set.
- To store the bars, place them in an airtight container in the fridge separating the layers with parchment. Alternatively, you can place them back into the 9x13" pan and cover.
- The bars also freeze very well.
- ** To make traditional bars double the ingredients for the Custard and stop at Step 5, then spread the Custard layer evenly over the base and cool. Melt the chocolate (You will need slightly more chocolate to cover the top) and spread evenly over top, allow to set in the fridge. Cut into bars/squares **