Nanaimo Bars (or “Naomi” bars, as I call them) are the epitome of Canadian desserts, next to tarte au sucre. The traditional recipe is delicious, but why stop there? Here, we tried versions with a mint cream filling, lavender cream filling, and double chocolate cookie as the base. Each small alteration adds a new dimension of flavor while maintaining the integrity of the classic dessert.
If you can withstand the amount of butter, sugar, and chocolate that goes into making these, the actual process is very simple. For those of you who are oven-phobic, all you need is a pan, a fridge, and some willpower.
- 1 8×8 inch pan
For the base (traditional)
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 5 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1 egg, beaten
For the base (double chocolate cookie)
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 small egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1/6 cup cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- Pinch sale
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the middle layer
- ½ cup butter
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp custard powder
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 7 drops peppermint extract
- Green food coloring
- 1 tbsp crushed lavender
- Purple food coloring
For the top layer
- 2 tsp butter
- 12 squares (3 ounces) semisweet baking chocolate
- Instead of 3 ounces baking chocolate, use 2 ounces plus an additional 2 ounces of white chocolate.
- Traditional Base: In a double boiler, combine ½ cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, and continuously stir until thick – about 2 minutes. Stirring is important here so the egg doesn’t scramble. Remove from heat and mix in graham crumbs and coconut. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8×8 inch pan.
- Double Chocolate Cookie Base: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and stir into the butter mixture until blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Spread mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 8×8 inch pan and bake for 9 minutes.
- For the middle layer, cream together ½ cup butter, cream, and custard powder in a large bowl. Mix in the confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill in the fridge to set – about 45 minutes.
- If adding flavouring, do so before spreading over the bottom layer.
- While the middle layer is in the fridge, melt the chocolate(s) and butter together in the microwave. Spread over chilled bars and let cool before cutting into squares.
- If using both semi-sweet and white chocolate, pour semi-sweet over middle layer first and spread evenly.
- Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the semi-sweet.
- Using a toothpick, drag through both layers of chocolate to form swirls.