Nanaimo Bars

BASE LAYER:
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 sleeve coarse graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely shredded or chopped coconut (optional)

MIDDLE LAYER:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

2 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp heavy cream or milk

TOP LAYER:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
Sea salt (optional)

  1. Spray 8×8 glass or metal pan well and/or line with parchment. In medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients, press them tightly into pan, and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Cool the crust fully on counter or refrigerator. 
  2. While crust is cooling, stir together butter and pudding mix until well combined, then add cream or milk one tablespoon at a time until consistency of heavy buttercream. Spread over crust and refrigerate until firm (at least half an hour).
  3. When middle layer is firm, melt chocolate and butter in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring until smooth. Pour into pan and quickly spread evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Return to refrigerator until chocolate is solid; slice into bars.

Before our 20th anniversary trip to Ontario in 2019, we began listening to some Canadian podcasts and watching Canadian TV shows and movies set there. One treasure we discovered was the Dark Poutine true crime podcast, which begins every episode with the phrase “put on your toque, grab yourself a double-double and a nanaimo bar — it’s time to scarf down some dark poutine.” Well, we knew what a toque, double-double, and poutine were, but had not heard of nanaimo bars. We learned they were created in the town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, but can be found in all provinces if you look hard enough. I was intimidated by the many steps and ingredients involved in most recipes I found, so I did some research and created a simplified version for this little Tennessee Canaphile.