Nanaimo bars are quite possibly the best no-bake treat in existence. And there isn't even a peanut butter and chocolate combo going on here!
We were new to the whole nanaimo bars creation but we were not new to eating nanaimo bars. No no, this was my favourite treat to order when I went to Tim Hortons as a child...I don't even think they sell nanaimo bars there any more...oh, how things change.
If you're worried that you aren't up to the task of making nanaimo bars well think again because these are quite easy to make surprisingly.
And the best part? They are vegan! Who knew custard powder was vegan? Not I.
Well... not all custard powders are created equal, it must be the Bird's variety if you'd like the treat to be vegan.
Having said that, you can easily substitute non-vegan margarine or butter and regular chocolate chips.
Oooo the crisp chocolate layering giving way to sweet custard filling and soft bottom layer is just beautiful.
Something that makes these bars really special is the addition of cocoa nibs. They add a nice crunch and a little bitterness that balances out the sweet custard.
We used two recipes for our bars.
Note that there is a little bit of a discrepancy between the two recipes as this base recipe calls for a 9" pan where the custard and topping calls for an 8" pan. We used a 9" pan and it turned out fine for us, maybe a little thinner than the average Nanaimo bar but still delicious. We are in no way saying you must use the two different recipes, you may follow a single recipe if preferred. We just liked the base of Go Dairy Free but didn't have any vegan cream cheese that the custard calls for.
Nanaimo Base from Go Dairy Free
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon flax seed
- 1/3 cup vegan margarine
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted cocoa nibs
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Custard layer and Chocolate Coating from The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado
Cream together margarine, coconut milk, vanilla and custard powder. Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over bottom layer, than place in fridge to chill.
In a double boiler, melt 4 squares of semi sweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of margarine over low heat. Let cool, then while cool but still liquid, take your chilled bars out of the fridge and pour your chocolate on using your offset spatula. Put it in the fridge to chill for one hour.
Cut into squares when the chocolate is hardened but not too cold, otherwise the chocolate will crack.