I discovered this recipe for Nanaimo bars a while back, but I had no idea that this was the national dessert of Canada. To be completely honest, the only reason I made them was because I am a huge fan of peanut butter. Well, this recipe is not, strictly speaking, the original “national” one (or so I’ve heard), but just one of the many varieties.
The original Nanaimo bar consists of a wafer crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavored butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares. See? No peanut butter. But then I even changed the peanut butter variety to make it at least a teeny tiny bit healthier, if not less caloric (‘cause you just can’t really do that with a butter, nut, sugar, chocolate recipe).
On the other hand, I did like this recipe because it doesn’t require baking, is very easy to make and can be really neatly cut and decorated, so the squares can look quite amazing.
So, to get to the point, this is my recipe, adapted slightly from a variety of Nanaimo bars found at GroupRecipes. Mostly, I just made it even more peanut-buttery.
- 70g peanut butter
- 45g butter
- 30g powdered sugar
- 45g cocoa powder
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 250g graham cracker crumbs
- 50g sweetened coconut
- 60g finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds (I used both almonds and walnuts and I definitely prefer walnuts)
Peanut butter filling:
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g peanut butter
- 50g confectioners’ sugar
- 120g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Line an 8 by 8-inch (20 by 20 cm) baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil (or in my case, just foil), with long flaps hanging over each edge.
For the cookie:
Put the butter and peanut butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water.
Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine.
Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan.
(Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)
For the filling:
Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light. Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.
Filling can be doubled or tripled, but in my humble opinion, the best part is the crust.
For the glaze:
Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Or, just use the microwave. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth in both cases, though.
Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offset spatula. Freeze for 30 minutes. Or put in the fridge over-night.
Before serving, let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch (2, 5 cm) squares with a sharp knife.
Serve cool or at room temperature.