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Mint Nanaimo Bars for a belated Canada Day!


So technically I didn’t really celebrate Canada Day yesterday. Last year I made peameal bacon sandwiches on kaisers with poutine, and this year I have to admit I’m kinda excited about my plans for the 4th so all I managed to do last night after all the kids were cleaned up and in bed (both the jiu-jitsu dojo and the dance studio really produce some sweaty kids in July) were these mint nanaimo bars.

I’m going to give you a little history lesson today because no one seems to know about any of the random Canadian treats my husband and I obsess over. No matter how long we live here, and no matter how many churros we eat, we will always be suckers for Canadian desserts.

So first of all, Nanaimo is a little city on Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia. Both my husband and I have family out there and it’s one of those lovely picturesque places in Canada that has evergreens and no snow. In the early 1950s, an old school domestic goddess (her name was actually Mabel Jenkins, can you believe it, how perfect that her name was Mabel?) came up with these bars and submitted them to the Ladysmith and Cowichan Women’s Institute Cookbook. No really, that’s what it was called and yes, it was an extremely regional publication lol. They were an instant hit and started popping up in coffee shops on the island and very quickly went from being called Mable’s Bars to Nanaimo Bars since that was the only place anyone could find them. Over the years the recipe has been tweaked by various people so there are a whole lot of variations. Since the middle is a pretty simple pudding-type custard, it can be made in any flavor (and of course color to match). The top is always chocolate but I have seen a lot of variations on the bottom crust as well.

My husband loves the mint version and of course if something is mint, we have to be made aware of it with a painfully green tint. 😉

Mint Nanaimo Bars

Mint Nanaimi Bars adapted from Canadian Living and also Canadian Living. (I used the filling from the first, the crust from the second and the standard topping)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
4 cups icing sugar
1 green food coloring

8 oz chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter

I swear, it’s a pretty simple process for a three layer situation, but like most layered situations, there is some chilling time between each one. To make the crust, mash up the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, cocoa powder and sugar. Slowly add the butter and the eggs until it will hold it’s shape.

Mint Nanaimo Bars

Now press it into a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Mint Nanaimo Bars

The filling is even easier! Just combine the butter, milk and peppermint, then add the sugar in one cup at a time until it’s all mixed in. Once the crust has cooled, spread this over it and chill it for about an hour.

Mint Nanaimo Bars

Finally, the last and thankfully easiest layer! Just melt the chocolate in a double boiler, add a little butter and spread over the chilled peppermint layer. Chill it again for about another hour and you’re done!

Mint Nanaimo Bars

Make a coffee and crack into that chocolate layer to get to the mintyness inside! So good!

Mint Nanaimo Bars
Mint Nanaimo Bars
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