Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Peppermint Nanaimo bars.

My boss's birthday was today and apparently his favourite "cake" is Nanaimo bars.  As we were each chowing down on our bite-sized piece of perfection, one of my co-workers asked whether the rest of us had ever had a peppermint Nanaimo bar.  I hadn't, but I love peppermint, and I love Nanaimo bars... so I thought I would make a batch.  Everything worked out even better than I could have hoped, because Tim is coming back from his work trip tonight, so now he'll have a yummy treat awaiting him upon his return.

I have never made Nanaimo bars before, and never realized how long they take.  They easily take three hours or so, once you factor in all of the chilling of the various layers that must be done prior to adding the next layer.  So first you must form the base.  I used the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I made these by processing honey graham bears I bought in the bulk section because I didn't want to buy something in a box)
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg beaten 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used organic chocolate chips, not baker's chocolate)

I first melted the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, and once they were incorporated, I took the mixture off the heat and set it aside to cool.  I processed the honey graham bears until they were a fine powder, then mixed them with the coconut and sugar.  I beat the egg quickly and mixed it in with the chocolate mixture and then once incorporated, poured the liquids into the dry mixture and mixed them until all were incorporate.  It still seemed pretty buttery, but having eaten many a Nanaimo bar in the past, this didn't surprise me.  I pressed the resulting mixture into the bottom of an 8 (?) inch non-stick pan, then put it in the fridge, where it was to chill for two hours.
Once the time was up for the base to set, I made the filling, using the following:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 3 tbsp crushed peppermint candies
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp beetroot powder (optional, just a natural way to add a pink hue)
This part is pretty easy.  Just mix everything together then spread it over the base.  Then I allowed it to cool in the fridge for half an hour.  I couldn't figure out this picture, but then remembered I took a picture while it was in the fridge, so the bar at the top is the upper shelf of my fridge and the pan is sitting on some other containers that are in there.
Once the filling was adequately cool, I had to deal with what turned out to be the hardest part: the chocolate glaze.  The ingredients were 4 ounces of chocolate and 2 tbsp of chocolate (I used chips again), but for some reason, once they melted together, they sort of formed this clump, and when I tried to smooth them over the top of the filling, they wouldn't smooth and it didn't seem like there was enough chocolate.  The instructions said to warm the ingredients together on low until just melted, but this just didn't work out.  So I ended up making a double batch of the chocolate (so 1/4 butter and 1 cup chocolate chips) and that worked out better.  The mixture still was difficult to spread, but easier.  I put the pan into the fridge to chill for ten minutes then brought it back out and dusted it with the remainder of the crushed peppermints (2-3 tbsp), which doesn't look very pretty, but I bet it will make them that much more delicious!  They look pretty mouth-watering, I can't wait to try one!


  1. Damn girl, those sound amazing!! I had never even heard of nanaimo bars --is it a Canadian thing you have been keeping from us down south?

  2. Hello Peaches! Yes, indeed, there is a rumour that they are a Canadian creation, from a small city on Vancouver Island (Nanaimo). I've heard American friends of mine refer to them as New York bars, though, so maybe their origin is contested. I tried one after I wrote this post, and they are SWEET! I cut them into 1 1/2 inch squares (thankfully) because I had a feeling that would be the case, and I could only eat one. Normal Nanaimo bars have more of a custard middle filling, which is a bit less sweet than the peppermint. But they're awesome, I'm pretty happy with this one!