These triple layer bar cookies were fabled to have first surfaced in the 1950s when a Nanaimo housewife entered the recipe in a magazine contest. However, the magazine was never identified and to complicate things further, the bars have been known to masquerade under other such names as New York Bars, or London Smog Bars.
Whatever the case, we are happy to have found the Nanaimo Bar and his festive cousin, the Mint Nanaimo Bar, to share with you (Look Holiday colors!!!)!
Giving credit where it’s due: Cakespy
Based on the recipe from Nanaimo’s Visitor Bureau – a recipe which won the Ultimate Nanaimo Bar recipe contest held in none other than Nanaimo, BC.
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa (we used Dutch process, or you can use regular)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely chopped pecans
1 cup coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) – pulse this a few times in the food processor to get it into more manageable pieces
Melt the first three ingredients in a double boiler. It will melt into a delicious lava-like substance that smells heavenly! (Seriously, Sam almost melted her face off in the bowl). Remove from heat. Next, temper in the egg. (Basically, take a little bit of the chocolate lava and add it to the egg while stirring constantly. Then take this “tempered” egg and add it to the chocolate lava while whisking constantly. This is done to prevent the egg from curdling…no one wants that.)
Put the mixture back on the double boiler and continuously whisk until it thickens. Take it off the heat (for the last time!) and stir in the vanilla. Add in the crumbs, coconut, and nuts.
Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with foil and spray it with baking spray to prevent sticking. Press the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, so that when you spread the middle layer on, it won’t crumble.
The Buttercream Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons light cream
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding powder
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
About 2 drops of green food coloring
Cream butter until smooth. Add vanilla, 2 tablespoons cream, pudding powder, and sugar. (Don’t forget the mint ingredients if you’re going to be festive). Beat this all together until it gets light and like beautiful cake frosting. Add more cream to get the perfect spreadable consistency. Get the crust out of the refrigerator and spread the buttercream over it. Return to the refrigerator and chill for another hour.
The Chocolate topping
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt the chocolate and butter in the double boiler. Pour it over the second layer and spread it with the back of a spoon or a knife. Put the pan back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for the chocolate to set.
After those last 30 minutes of chilling are finally up, take the pan out of the refrigerator and lift the foil out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Trim off the ragged edges (about half an inch – but for God sake don’t throw them away – we recommend eating them, more or less immediately) and cut into squares with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between cuts…And behold! The Legendary Nanaimo Bar!