Nanaimo Bars

These absurdly delicious no-bake, almost fudge like cookie bars originate from a Canadian city on Vancouver Island, but this weekend aboard Upward Wing I made them decidedly Cajun by adding them as a “second verse”  of a local joke.  As it’s told, as a hurricane was approaching the bayou country* one Cajun turned to the other and said “you plannin’ on leavin’?” to which the other Cajun replied, “Namaste.”

(*Apologies to anyone in Florence’s wake who wasn’t ready for a hurricane joke…we just live ready down here.  In fact, we would consider this a great “hurricane party” dish.)

So on to this week’s cookie: one Cajun turns to the other and says “you got any more o’ dem crazy-addictive cookie bars?”  And the other Cajun says “Nanaimo!”

Nanaimo Bars

For a print-friendly recipe see below

For bottom layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup toasted sweetened coconut

For middle layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar

For top layer:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

I started by making the middle layer because my butter had been sitting out and was really soft.  Beat together the four middle layer ingredients until thoroughly combined and light.

For the bottom layer, start by mixing your dry ingredients.  If you need to toast your coconut, you can give it about 5 carefully-watched minutes in a 325-degree oven, or toast it in a pan on top of the stove the way you would nuts.  Get your hand cranked food processor out and grind up almonds and graham cracker crumbs as finely as you can.

Continuing the bottom layer, combine the 1/2 cup butter, sugar, and cocoa in the top of a double boiler (or just really carefully over low heat in a saucepan) and melt.  If your captain calls for a sail change at this point, get everything into the fiddles and head up top.

I can see why he didn’t like those clouds on the horizon — at least during Gulf Coast pop-up thunderstorm season.  After we tacked away I decided everything was safe on the gimbal and took some time to console Eddy about the fact that he’s not getting any nanaimo bars.

Back to the galley…melt that butter/sugar/cocoa together, then stir in a beaten egg.  Continue stirring over very low heat until combined and thickened a bit.

Stir in the dry ingredients.  This is going to be a moist-crumbly mix.

Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ square pan.

Spread the middle layer on top of that — you might have to sort of finger paint it into the corners.  Horrors, what shall I do with buttercream-covered fingers!  Oh Eeeeeeeddyyyy!

Melt the bittersweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter together over very low heat, just until chocolate chunks are dissolved and mixture is glossy.  (You can also do this in about 30 seconds in the microwave, if you’re shoreside.)  Let cool, then spread over the buttercream.

Chill the whole shibbang for a good several hours in the icebox, then cut into small squares (seriously, this is more like candy than a brownie…make ’em an inch square at most).  Serve to adoring, soon to be totally addicted crew and bask in your accolades.

Nanaimo Bars
Course: Dessert
Servings: 64 servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
  • 2 talbespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. For bottom layer: combine 1/2 cup butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler and melt.  Add beaten egg and stir to combine and thicken a little, about 2 minutes.  Add coconut, graham cracker crumbs and almonds and stir well to combine.  Press firmly into the bottom of an ungreased 8" square pan.

  2. For middle layer: beat together 1/2 cup butter, cream, pudding powder and powdered sugar well until combined and light.  Spread over bottom layer.

  3. For top layer: melt together chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter just until melted and glossy.  Cool several minutes, until just still liquid.  Spread over bars.

  4. Chill for several hours, then cut into 1" squares.

2 thoughts on “Nanaimo Bars

  1. Nanaimo Bars are a favorite from The Newfoundland Cookbook. Ask your Pirate Partner about the recipe. Love the variation

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