These are the best Nanaimo bars I’ve ever tasted. My mom and sister (Steph McVox) agree and these will be added to the family cookbook. My sis and I have a tendency to be synchronized. Especially in the kitchen. Whenever we speak or email, some type of food or drink is brought up that the other was also thinking about, wanting to try or made recently. When this happens we say Holy Synchronicity! Recently I mentioned I wanted to make Nanaimo bars for Canada Day, as they’re the quintessential Canadian dessert. As usual we were thinking about the same thing and ways to tinker with the traditional recipe. Nanaimo bars are typically very sweet and Steph mentioned that her stylist, Maghan, adds lemon to the filling. Lemon is the perfect foil for the sweetness. Since these bars have coconut in the first layer, we felt that coconut oil would go splendidly in the chocolate topping. Steph was right and that addition kicked these up another notch. We’re not a fan of walnuts in baking so it was either pecans or almonds We went with almonds. We hope you enjoy these as much as we did. Happy Canada Day! -bvox
Lemon Coconut Nanaimo Bars
Adapted from Canadian Living
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sweetened flaked or shredded coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter
2 tbsp custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
Zest from one lemon
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
In bowl, stir together graham crumbs, coconut, almonds, cocoa powder and sugar. Drizzle with butter and egg; stir until combined.
Press crumb mixture into parchment paper–lined 9-inch square pan. Bake in 350°F oven until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.
Filling: In bowl, beat together butter, custard powder, vanilla, lemon extract and zest. Beat in icing sugar alternately with milk until smooth, adding up to 2 tsp more milk if too thick to spread. Spread over cooled base; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Topping: In heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate with coconut oil. Spread over filling; refrigerate until almost set, about 30 minutes.
With tip of knife, score into bars; refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or overwrap in heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.) Cut into bars.