Nanaimo Bars with Homemade Graham Crackers
Nanaimo bars: a Canadian treat starring homemade graham crackers, a buttercream custard, and a layer of chocolate.
A friend recently asked if I would bring some nanaimo bars to a gathering. I think she was a little surprised that I knew what they were, since they’re not common in our neck of the woods, and even more surprised when I commented on how much I dislike them. I really enjoyed making them, however, because it allowed me to pinpoint exactly why I detest them so much. The middle layer, always described as a “custard”, is really not a custard at all, but glorified buttercream. Seeing as how I really, truly dislike nauseatingly sweet, tooth-dissolving frosting, it only makes sense that I also dislike these. That said, if you happen to like frosting, I bet you’ll like nanaimo bars, too!
Homemade Graham Crackers
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup honey
- 5 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the cubed butter and cut in until the mixture forms a coarse meal.
- Whisk together honey, milk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together.
- Turn the dough onto plastic wrap and chill until firm, 2 hours or overnight.
- Sift a layer of flour on the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle (depending on the size of your work surface, you may want to divide into two balls of dough), about 1/8 inch thick (mine were 1/4 inch think). Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Move to parchment-lined baking sheets and prick surface with a fork.
- Bake for 12 minutes at 350F, or until golden brown in color.
- For Bottom Layer:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 1/4 cups homemade graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- For Middle Layer:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or vanilla pudding mix
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- For Top Layer:
- 4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Melt unsalted butter, sugar, and cocoa in the top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, nuts, and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8×8 inch pan.
- Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and confectioner’s sugar together. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.
- Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.