I have a heritage, and it is partly Canadian.
Nanaimo bars are a classic classic Canadian dessert. In fact, it is one of the only food items that I actually consider Canadian. (This is probably a gross error on my part, and I may have just offended much of my family, but this blog is nothing if not my honest thoughts, come what may.) However, the coconut/coffee/liqueur additions I made are definitely not classic classic. They’re like the other side of my heritage, an veritable cornucopia of European cultures that is not fully described by my Dutch surname.
I’ll spare you the details. (As you may know, discussing your cultural heritage is a classic Minnesota small talk pastime, almost as popular as discussing the snow. I, however, find it even more boring than discussing snow.)
Anyway, the point of the story is that my cultural heritage is not strictly German or Italian or Canadian. And these bars are not strictly Canadian either. They are basically my family history in dessert form. The best form.
Unlike my heritage, Nanaimo bars are quite possibly one of the most delicious bars you can consume. Equal ratio of nuts to chocolate to frosting all smothered in gananche? Why ever not?
Also unlike my heritage, this particular version of Nanaimo bars is actually interesting. The flavor mash ups are nontraditional and wonderful. An altogether smashing mouth-party of flavor.
Behold the 1:1 ratio of frosting to base. My most favorite ratio.
Be prepared to spend a good amount of time prepping the ingredients and chilling each layer. You will not be disappointed.
In good form,
Coffee Coconut Nanaimo Bars
An LH Original, adapted heavily from Cooking Classy
- 1/2 cup butter, diced into pieces
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds (I used pecans
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons Cafe D’Oro liqueur (or Kahlua)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla cook and serve pudding mix
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add in brown sugar, coffee and cocoa powder and whisk until well combined. Whisking vigorously, slowly pour in beaten egg. Return mixture to heat and cook for 1 – 2 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans and toss until evenly coated. Press mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you make the next layer.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip together butter, liqueur, milk and pudding mix until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Spread mixture into an even layer over chilled graham cracker base. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze while you make the top layer.
Melt the chocolate along with butter and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Spread the mixture into an even layer over the filling layer, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares, and store in an airtight container.