These are very definitely not my recipe – I actually have no idea who the original recipe creator is, but there are versions of it absolutely everywhere. My very favourite version is mint, but there is no peppermint extract in the house so I had to settle for regular. I say settle, but regular Nanaimo bars are freaking amazing also, just not as amazing as mint Nanaimo bars.
Today I managed to produce what is essentially my most perfect attempt at them. Usually I manage to dump the hot chocolate over the middle layer and mix them up all funky but this time, I took my time, stuck it in the freezer for every layer and it worked very well. Imagine that! Patience is actually a virtue. I must practice this more often when I cook. 🙂
Be warned, this has a lot, lot, lot of steps, but really is not difficult. It is also not a fast recipe so don’t expect to whip this up in half an hour. I basically took all afternoon to make it, but I was making other things at the same time. With cooling time it probably takes a couple of hours to make, but most of that is hands off.
Bottom Layer Ingredients:
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup + 1 TB (5 TB) cocoa powder
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¾ cup fine coconut (I used some toasted coconut I had left over from a recipe I did a few days ago)
Melt the butter in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
Mix in the cocoa powder and sugar.
Take the pot off the heat, get a whisk ready and break the egg into the cocoa mixture.
Whisk like crazy, very quickly, until the egg is fully incorporated. Until it’s mixed in, the mixture will look sort of separated and there will be a halo around the outer edge of the chocolate mixture.
Mix in the graham cracker crumbs and coconut very thoroughly.
Press firmly into an 8×8 greased pan and tuck into the fridge or freezer to set and cool it down for the next layer.
Middle Layer Ingredients:
- 3 cups of icing/powdered sugar – don’t use regular sugar, it doesn’t melt in this so will make the layer grainy and wet as it won’t help to absorb the milk
- ¾ cup butter, softened not melted
- ¼ cup milk
- 1/4 cup Bird’s Vanilla Custard Powder (it’s in a bright red, yellow and blue can) There are other recipes using powdered milk, cornstarch and vanilla for this but I haven’t tried it
Add all these ingredients into a bowl and use a hand mixer or put into the bowl for a stand mixer. Mix for a few minutes. It will get lighter and fluffier when it’s fully mixed.
Pop the bottom layer out of the fridge or freezer and spread this middle layer all over the top of it. Pop it back into the fridge or freezer.
Top Layer Ingredients:
- 8 ounces of chocolate I used a combination of unsweetened dark chocolate, semi sweet chocolate chips and some 70% dark chocolate squares. Use a semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate – sweetened and your bars will be very sweet
- 4 TB butter
*Note: Next time, I will cut the chocolate layer in half – 4 ounces chocolate, 2 TB butter. The 8 ounce chocolate layer is quite thick and difficult to cut.
If you have a double boiler, put the chocolate and butter into the top pan and melt it over low heat. I just popped a metal bowl into a saucepan of water, put the heat on low and gave it a stir every once in a while.
When it’s melted, it’ll be glossy and beautiful. Pour over that middle layer and spread it around. Give it a couple minutes and cut it or at least score the squares before you pop it into the fridge to set.
That’s it, that’s all there is to these and they are soooooo, soooooo, sooooo good and so worth the time to make them. Everyone who loves chocolate should give these a try at least once!
You could add in some walnut or almond pieces to the bottom layer – about a ¼ cup – if you wanted a little crunch.
My personal favourite – you could add a little peppermint extract to the top layer (mint chocolate – yummmm).
I’ve seen some that are cappuccino, white chocolate, raspberry, s’mores, cheesecake – one search brought up 130 different Nanaimo bar variations.