You might think the title of this card is a little overzealous, but I am obsessed with Nanaimo bars, and the fact that vegan Nanaimo bars taste just as delicious makes me feel pretty confident that you'll love them too. For those of you who don't know, Nanaimo bars are a three-layer dessert bar hailing from Nanaimo, a city in British Columbia, Canada that caught on throughout the country and even trickled down here into the United States. They are sometimes available at popular Canadian coffee chain Tim Horton's, and are something of a dessert fixture in the region.
The bottom layer is a combination of chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, nuts, and shredded coconut. The middle layer is a standard custard cream. And the top layer is thick ganache-like chocolate that hardens to sit quite securely on top of that aforementioned custard. What you get is a bar that's completely decadent, but broken up. It's amazing, and now, thanks to this recipe from British vegan chef and book author Mellissa Morgan, you can treat yourself to some of these bars at home. (Just remember to share, okay?)
Vegan Nanaimo Bars
(Makes 15 - 24 servings)
For the Biscuit Base -
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsp water
1 cup dairy-free margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
2 cups rich tea or digestive biscuits, crushed (If you want to make these gluten-free, swap these biscuits out for a gluten-free variety, and you should be set.)
3 1/3 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
For the Custard Cream Filling -
3/4 cup dairy-free margarine
3 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable shortening
6 cups icing sugar
5 tbsp custard powder
2 tbsp soy or rice milk
For the Chocolate Layer:
1 1/2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips or chocolate bars
3 tbsp + 1 tsp dairy-free margarine
1) Liberally grease, or line with parchment paper, a 13” x 9” cake tin or baking pan.
2) In a small bowl, whisk the flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Set aside for 10 minutes.
3) Over a low heat, melt the margarine in a large pan with the caster sugar and the cocoa powder. Remove from the heat and add the crushed biscuits, coconut, walnuts (if using) and flaxseed mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture using a non-stick spatula into the prepared cake tin and pop it into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the custard cream filling. Using an electric hand-held mixer, mix together the margarine, vegetable fat, icing sugar, custard powder and soy milk. The custard will resemble a soft buttercream. Take the biscuit layer out of the fridge and spread the custard cream across it evenly.
5) Finally, for the chocolate layer, melt together the chocolate chips and margarine in a pan over a low heat. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the custard cream layer. Return the tray to the fridge. Allow the chocolate and the bars to firm up for about 3 hours or overnight before slicing into it.