Monday, January 15, 2007

Peppermint Perfection Nanaimo Bars Recipe

The Nanaimo Bar is a Canadian confection that has become popular worldwide largely due to its production and distribution by Starbucks. There is controversy about its origin (and Canadian-ness for that matter, see: However, it is named after a small town on Vancouver Island. The treat is served throughout Canada and variations abound. I created this peppermint version as part of my annual holiday baking, and later learned that others had the same idea.

Makes 48 small bars


2 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 large crackers)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg beaten (or 1/4 cup pasteurized egg product)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
3-5 drops green food coloring

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
green sprinkles (optional)

  1. For the base, heat chocolate and butter on low heat (or in the microwave) until just melted. Cool for five minutes. In the meantime, mix graham cracker crumbs, coconut, nuts and sugar. Beat egg, add it to chocolate mixture and mix well. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Press this into the base of a 9x9 inch baking pan. Chill at least two hours.

  2. For filling, mix powdered sugar and butter. Slowly add milk. Then add peppermint extract and food coloring. Spread over the base with a knife. You can dampen your fingers and use them to spread the filling evenly. Chill at least 30 minutes.

  3. For the glaze heat the chocolate and butter on low heat until just melted. Cool slightly and spread over filling. Chill. If using sprinkles, let the bars cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before applying them, then chill.

  4. To cut into squares, bring the bars to room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, cut through the glaze. If it cracks, let the bars warm up longer.

These bars can be kept in the fridge for 1 month and in the freezer for 3 months. A great item to make ahead. You can also make this in stages, completing each layer on a different day.


David said...

these came out really well and cut easily into bite sized pieces (which is good... they're so incredibly sweet that you only need one bite). the two top layers sort of swirled into one, but it added a nice look. i ditched the sprinkles and replaced the peppermint with 1 tsp vanilla.

AKR said...

Glad to hear it. The trick it that the middle layer needs to be cooled for a while. I usually leave it overnight before putting on the chocolate and make sure the chocolate is not warm enough to melt the middle layer. Am glad they worked out well for your soiree...


Mags said...

Love your recipes, love your blog. Your comments are never anything short of witty and engaging. Made these bars for the first time this holiday season. I have to say, the flavor was phenomenal. However, I did have a bit of trouble when I attempted to cut them. I tried cutting them when they were room temp, and the top was cracking. Tried refrigerating them, and the same thing happened. I did each layer a day at a time, so there definitely were not any problems with layers not being cooled. How do you avoid this problem? Also, you mentioned that they would keep for about a month in the refrigerator, but in terms of short term storage, do you usually keep them in the fridge? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

AKR said...

Hi Mags - thanks for your comments. If the top chocolate layer cracks, keep the bars at room temperature longer until they are softer. Use a sharp knife and score only the top chocolate layer. Once that is done, then you can cut through all layers. Nanaimo bars should always be stored in the fridge or freezer. Do not leave them at room temperature as they contain raw egg and will become very soft.