The Classic Nanaimo Bar

Having lived in Nanaimo for a good portion of my life, I feel I’m a pretty good judge of what Nanaimo Bars should taste like. After going gluten free, I was determined to find a decent substitute. I’ve had a few from local bakeries; they tend to make the base more “cake-like”, using rice flour or similar. The original recipe uses graham crackers.

When I started this blog, I swore to myself I would keep it free of those ingredients that require you to organize a full on hunt of all your local health food stores and back alley importers. I’m going to break my own rule this time by posting this recipe using Kinnikinnick Graham-Style crumbs; but if you’re not familiar with this product, or a similar one, they can be found online, and deliver to your door (US & Canada).  The website also lists stores selling their products worldwide.

Anyway. On with the show!

Traditional Nanaimo bars are made up of three layers: the base, the middle, and the icing on top. Each layer is prepared in succession, and no baking is required!

Base:
1/2 cup butter or butter substitute, softened
5 tbs cocoa
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I use pecans)
5 tbs white sugar
2 cups gluten free graham-style crumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Middle:
4 tbs butter or butter substitute
2 tbs milk or milk substitute (I use lactose free milk. DO NOT use soy milk – the pudding won’t set)
2 tbs vanilla instant pudding powder (or Bird’s Custard powder)
2 cups icing sugar

Topping:
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 tbs butter or butter substitute

For the base: Put softened butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and egg in a bowl. Set the bowl in a pan of boiling water (or use a double boiler). Stir until butter melts, and mixture is custard consistency.

Double-boiler effect for the base

Double-boiler effect for the base

Mix the graham crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Add to cocoa mixture. Pack into an ungreased 9×9″ pan.

Pack the base into an ungreased 9x9 pan

Pack the base into an ungreased 9×9 pan

For the middle icing layer:

Cream the butter. Combine milk and pudding powder, and add to butter. Mix in the icing sugar. Spread over the chocolate base, and allow to harden.

Cover the base with the middle layer

Cover the base with the middle icing layer

For the topping:

Melt the chocolate squares and butter in a microwave or double boiler. Mix well. Spread evenly over the other layers. I sometimes find the chocolate topping a bit hard to spread; you may want to increase the ingredients a bit so there’s more to work with.

Allow topping to harden, cut into squares. Refrigerate if desired.

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