Bittersweet Nanaimo Bars

One of my fondest memories from childhood is baking treats with my Mom over the holidays, and I have continued this tradition with my own children (sometimes with Grandma too!). Nanaimo bars are one of my favourite desserts at this time of year but I find that most recipes are too rich.

The bittersweet chocolate topping and unsweetened dark cocoa bottom layer in this recipe complement the sweet center perfectly.

Time commitment 

Prep – 10 minutes

Recipe – 30 minutes

Refrigerate – 1 hour

Ingredients

Base:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup pure unsweetened dark cocoa powder 

1 egg

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 cups of crumbs made from crushed S’moreables Gra­ham Style Crack­ers 

1 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (organic, without sulfites or preservatives)

1/2 cup finely chopped raw nuts of your choice (Grandma and I like to use walnuts)

Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 tbsp vanilla custard mix (or vanilla custard powder, or pistachio flavoured if you prefer a green 
center, 
but make sure to check the ingredients if you prefer gluten free or a non-wheat base)

5 tbsp milk of your choice - almond, coconut, rice, cow, goat, etc.

4 cups powdered or icing sugar

Topping:

400 grams of Bittersweet chocolate (we like to use two boxes of Camino's Bittersweet Bakers Chocolate)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

Kitchen utensils

set of measuring spoons

set of measuring cups

wooden mixing spoon

spatula

metal spoon

large and small mixing bowl

double boiler (a medium size pot and metal bowl will work as well)

mixer 

13x9 baking dish

Directions

Base:

1. Cut the butter into cubes and melt in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir in cocoa

2. Turn the stove to low heat and stir in the egg (stir constantly and avoid scrambling the egg, it should be unrecognizable when stirred in)

3. Over low heat, stir in the coconut sugar, graham style cracker crumbs, shredded coconut and chopped nuts, mix well 

4. Firmly press the mixture evenly across the baking dish with a large spoon, packing it tightly, set aside.

Filling:

1. Cream the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Start with the butter then slowly add the custard powder, milk and icing sugar, mixing well

2. Pour the filling into the baking dish over the bottom layer, using a spatula to even it out. Pick up the baking dish and gently shift it from side to side to help level out the filling

3. Place in the fridge for half an hour or until the filling solidifies.

Topping:

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, then stir in the butter on low heat

2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the baking dish over the hardened layer of filling, using a spatula to level it out. Pick up the baking dish and gently shift it from side to side to help level out the topping

3. Place in the fridge for half an hour or until the chocolate solidifies.

If you are not planning to serve your Nanaimo bars within a day or two, they freeze well. You can store them in the baking dish if covered, or cut them into squares before freezing. To avoid cracking the chocolate topping when cutting the Nanaimo bars, set the baking dish on the counter and bring the dessert to room temperature first.

Serve and enjoy!