Chocolate mint Nanaimo bars are a delicious no-bake layered treat. Each bite is a tasty balance of texture and flavor featuring a soft minty custard middle sandwiched between chocolate and a coconut-graham crumb base. Chocolate mint Nanaimo bars are a tasty treat with an afternoon cup of tea or as an after dinner dessert. And I’ll admit it, I’ve even sampled a piece (or two) for breakfast.
Chocolate mint Nanaimo bars are a tasty twist on this beloved Canadian classic sweet. In fact the only difference from the classic Nanaimo bar is using mint extract (instead of vanilla) and a few drops of green food coloring in the creamy custard middle layer. Growing up in Canada, I’d often have Nanaimo bars as a special dessert. They were also a favorite sweet treat we’d have around Christmas time. In this version, the creamy custard center is flavored with mint and tinted a spring-like shade of green ~ perfect for St. Patrick’s day. Nanaimo bars are simply named after the city of their origin (Nanaimo, British Columbia).
Each layer takes a little time and some patience, but they are worth it. Nanaimo bars can also be made gluten-free. While they can be a little difficult to find, you can now purchase gluten-free graham cracker crumbs. (Check out the shopping links below). Or you can substitute the graham cracker crumbs with crushed Rice Krispie crumbs (pulse them a little in a food processor). The amount of time to chill each layer in the recipe is approximate. You essentially want to chill each layer long enough so that it is set before spreading on the next layer. If you take more time in-between each layer than suggested. No problem. Cover it with plastic wrap in the fridge and go about your day.
Before the first layer goes in the pan, I recommend making a simple sling from a long piece of folded aluminum foil and cover it with a cut out piece of parchment paper to fit your pan. Make sure the foil overhangs the edges of the pan. This makes it much easier to remove the whole block from the pan at once in order to cut the bars into perfect squares or rectangles. It also protects your baking pan from getting scratched up.
Nanaimo bars freeze well. The bars pictured above are ready for the freezer. I’ve lined each layer of bars with parchment paper. Use air-tight, freezer safe containers. They will dry out if they are not covered well during storage.
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If you like the flavors of mint and chocolate together, I think you’ll enjoy these chocolate mint Nanaimo bars. They are a tasty sweet treat sure to impress.
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Chocolate mint Nanamio bars
Chocolate mint Nanaimo bars are a delicious no-bake layered treat. Each bite is a tasty balance of texture and flavor featuring a soft minty custard middle sandwiched between chocolate and a coconut-graham crumb base.
1st layer ~ base:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened, cut into small pieces)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup walnuts (finely chopped)
2nd layer ~ middle:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 6 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp mint extract
- 4 tbsp Bird’s custard powder
- 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- a couple drops of green food coloring ((adjust color to taste))
3rd layer ~ top:
- 1 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
1st layer ~ base:
- Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk in a large sauce pan. Heat the mixture slowly over low heat stirring just until the butter melts and it becomes smooth. Remove from the heat quickly, just prior to all the butter melting.
- Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Use a spatula to spread the base evenly into a 9 x 13 pan (see notes below.) Chill this layer for about 20 minutes. Prepare the middle layer while this chills.
2nd layer ~ middle:
- Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. Combine the butter, milk, mint extract, custard powder, confectioner’s sugar, drops of green food coloring and beat until it is smooth.
- Use a spatula to spread this layer on top of the first. Chill for approximately 45 minutes.
3rd layer ~ top:
- Combine chocolate and oil together in a glass mixing bowl. Melt over a double boiler or in the microwave at half power for about 1 minute. Stir frequently just until it is almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until it is fully melted. Spread the melted chocolate over the custard layer and evenly distribute it using a spatula. Work quickly.
- Chill the chocolate layer for about 30 minutes. Then using a sharp knife, score the chocolate where you will cut it into bars once it is completely set. Chill for at least another 30 minutes before cutting it into squares.
I’d estimate this recipe to serve approximately 12-18 people. It really depends on how small you cut your squares. Smallish is definitely better as they are sweet. The squares in the photos on the blog were cut on the larger side for dramatic visual effect.
It makes it easier to cut these into squares on a cutting board for nice sharp edges. To do this, I recommend preparing the 9 x 13 pan with a sling. Fold a long piece of aluminum foil in half. Ensure that the length of the foil overhangs over the edges of the pan. Place the foil lengthwise in the middle of the pan. Cut out a piece of parchment paper the same size as the pan and place this on top of the foil. Once the layers are all chilled, use the edges of the overhanging foil to lift up the whole block. Remove the foil and parchment. Then cut the dessert into squares along the areas you’ve scored on the chocolate.
Nanaimo bars freeze well. Use parchment paper in-between each layer of bars. Use air-tight, freezer safe containers. They will dry out if they are not covered well during storage.
To make these gluten-free use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs or Rice Krispies ground up in a food processor.
Bird’s custard powder is often found in either an International section or baking section of the supermarket.
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