|Nanaimo Bars. Mmmmmm..
Chocolatey, creamy, chewy, with just a hint of salt, the Nanaimo Bar endeared itself to me from the get-go. If a pastry could be a friend, the Nanaimo Bar would be my BFF and a half. I first experienced this amazing confection at an event at Portland State University. The servings they offered were at least twice the size of what I make them now, and I ate THREE of them over the course of an hour. I didn't know its name, but I knew I was in love. I eventually called the PSU food service to find out what those amazing bars were called and whether I could get the recipe. Imagine my horror and disgust at finding out they had ordered the bars from a bakery, and the person I was speaking with had no idea which bakery.
Months passed, and I ended up getting a name AND a recipe for these wonderful bars from my friend Kathi, who lived near the Canadian border. They are a Canadian dessert (the best cuisine Canada has to offer, I might add) and they are called "Nanaimo Bars." Once I had a recipe and a name, I could tweak it and make it mine. As I introduced the little bar to friends and family, they all fell in love with it too.
Fast forward a few years to my first food competition at the Iowa State Fair. Actually, the Nanaimo Bar is the only reason I really entered in the first place. The first time I saw the winners' displays at the ISF, and looked at the blue ribbon cookies, I thought, "My Nanaimo Bar would kick all these cookies' butts." And kick some cookie butt it did. Not only did it take first place in its class in 2006, but it went on to win best cookie overall: the "Cookie of the Fair." Top dog over 54 other classes of cookies. Once you eat these, you will know why, and you too, will feel the love.
For a blonde Nanaimo bar, click here.
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons half & half
- 2 tablespoons powdered (instant) vanilla pudding mix
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup semi-sweet-chocolate chips (or, even better, about 22 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises)
- 1 tablespoon Crisco or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped white or milk chocolate, melted
Line the bottom of a 9 X 9-inch pan (glass or metal) with parchment paper or non-stick foil.
Bottom Layer: In a 300° oven, toast coconut and chopped pecans until golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside. In the top of a double boiler, melt ½ cup butter and Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate (or cocoa and sugar). Whisk to combine. Whisk in the beaten egg. Whisk until thickened, and then remove at once from heat. Fold in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans. Press into prepared pan. Put in refrigerator while you prepare the next layer.
Middle Layer: In a large mixing bowl, cream together ½ cup softened butter, half & half, and pudding mix. Fold in the powdered sugar. Beat until very light. Spread evenly on top of the first layer. Cover with plastic wrap. Put in refrigerator again for an hour or so, until middle layer is firm.
Top Layer: In a double boiler melt the chocolate chips and Crisco or vegetable oil. The chocolate may melt the middle layer if it’s too hot, so you might want to let it cool for a little bit. Pour onto second layer and spread evenly. Drizzle white or milk chocolate over the top for decoration.* Let set in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes and then cut. (This keeps the chocolate from cracking when you cut it.) Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Note: Be sure to remove any foil or parchment paper that may have stuck to the bottom of individual bars.
Makes 16-25 servings, depending on how you cut them.
*I've created a post that gives explicit instructions and photos on how to make the "feathery" lines you see on these bars: How to Make Those Feathery Lines on Nanaimo Bars.