With only two days left to go, I saved the most notorious Canadian recipes for last! I’m pretty sure there are very few people out there who haven’t heard of the Nanaimo Bar, and if you’re one of the few who haven’t, then you my friend are in for one hell of a treat. As the story goes, the original Nanaimo bar dates back to the 1950’s where a Cowichan Bay housewife submitted it as a cookbook contribution for a local institution’s fundraiser. The cookbook sold all over British Columbia and the recipe grew in popularity. As the name points out, these are indistinguishably Canadian, nowadays you can find them in café’s, bakeries and grocery stores all over Canada.
You can find variations of the Nanaimo bar all over the internet; peanut butter, mint, strawberry, maple, mocha, you name it, but nothing beats the simplicity of the original. A coconuty, chocolate, graham cracker base, a creamy custardy vanilla center, topped with a silky smooth chocolate glaze. Totally rich, totally sweet, totally need to get one in my mouth right now! On top of them being incredibly delicious, they’re also incredibly easy to make, almost dangerously easy. There’s no cooking necessary, all that’s required is a bit of patience as you’re waiting for them to chill in the fridge and before you know it you’ll be wondering where all that self-control you thought you had disappeared too.
Although I’ve received my fair share of Nanaimo bars from others around Christmas time, this is the first time I’ve made them myself and as it turns out, my chocolate skills are somewhat lacking. Smoothing out the top chocolate layer ended up being a greater task then I anticipated, besides for winding up with a lumpy layer, I’m pretty sure I got chocolate over everything in my vicinity. Plus I learned that trying to cut really cold chocolate results in cracked chocolate and smooshed filling, so if you want prettier bars, make sure you cut them while the chocolate is chilled but still slightly soft. They weren’t quite as pretty as I was hoping but who gives a care when they taste so god damn good! Eat one of these (if you can even eat a full one) and you’ll be in sugar induced la la land in no time.
Makes one 8″ square pan
- 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I found vegan graham cracker crumbs at Bulk Barn)
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons custard powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup margarine, softened
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon margarine or coconut oil
Line a 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper.
Mix flax with water until well combined, set aside.
Melt two ounces of semi sweet chocolate and margarine over double boiler, pour into bowl and mix in two tablespoons sugar, vanilla, flax mixture, graham crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Mix well then press evenly into bottom of pan. Place in fridge to chill.
Cream together margarine, coconut milk, vanilla and custard powder. Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over bottom layer, than place in fridge to chill.
In a double boiler, melt 4 squares of semi sweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of margarine over low heat. Let cool, then while cool but still liquid, take your chilled bars out of the fridge and pour your chocolate on using your offset spatula. Put it in the fridge to chill for one hour.
The bar needs to chill until the chocolate has set but not be so cold that the chocolate is hard. If this happens the chocolate will crack when it’s sliced. If it seems too hard let it sit for a bit and try again. Store squares in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Adapted from a hand written recipe in a cookbook my nan gave me.