When I was growing up, there was a bakery in town that also did breakfast. We went for breakfast quite a bit, they had the BEST coffee can sourdough biscuits and gravy. Great, now that I brought those up, I'm totally craving some, which really sucks since the bakery went under about 7 years ago.. Anyways. The only other reason we went there? NANAIMO BARS. They were heaven, and they opened up my eyes to others. I've still never run across any others that were as good, but I admit, I was spoiled with these. Thankfully, living so close to the border (these bars originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, here's the original story on their history if you're interested), these delicacies are everywhere. I can find them at my local grocery stores in the bakery. Again, not nearly as good as the originals I fell in love with, but definitely an okay substitute.
So, when I first found the recipe to try to make these myself, I admit, I was skeptical. I actually looked up probably half a dozen different recipes to make sure I wasn't looking at some obscure version. The bottom layer contains walnuts AND coconut. I'm really not a fan of nuts (except peanuts and cashews, and very occasionally). I absolutely refuse to put nuts in anything. These however are an exception. I found by researching it online that it just doesn't work to not put nuts in these. Ready? Go!
Crust:1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Middle Layer Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint flavor
4 drops of green food coloring
Top Layer Ingredients
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
1. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder.
2. Once melted, mix in the beaten egg.
3. Add the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, vanilla, and walnuts. Stir until combined.
4. Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan. Place in the fridge and let cool.
5. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar, with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.
6. Add the milk one tbsp at a time. Next, add the peppermint and food coloring and beat until light and fluffy.
7. Spread onto the crust layer and refrigerate for 20 more minutes.
8. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Pour on top the middle layer, tipping the pan back and forth, ensuring an even layer of chocolate.
9. Place the nanaimo bars in the fridge for 30 minutes and serve cold.
So, you can do like the recipe says (I was far too lazy to actually type it all out tonight, if you want the original page, it's here), or you can just throw everything together, layer by layer like I did. I can't even think anymore.. See that piece on top in the last picture? It's gone. VERY gone. And all I can think about right now is the rest of it sitting on my stove. (These should be refrigerated, by the way. Should they last long enough at least..)
I will leave you with these wonderful pictures to drool over, and.. and... OH GOD I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING BUT ANOTHER ONE.
Oh, if you wanted to make the traditional vanilla version, omit mint extract and food coloring, add 3 tbsp vanilla pudding mix. There, I at least got that much in. I will post pictures of those when I get there. And I will.. eventually.. But first.. The rest of the pan is calling my name..
YES, YOU CAN CALL ME A FAT KID NOW.
**Long overdue update: the vanilla version!**
I'm also going to be making a lemon version, in which I put 2 tbsp vanilla pudding mix and 1 tsp lemon extract in the filling in place of the 3 tbsp vanilla pudding mix. YYUUMMM!! Maybe I'll even add a couple of drops of yellow food coloring to make it more "spring".