Have you ever heard of a Nanaimo bar? My sister Kate loves them. She is very good at making a few dessert specialties like Baker’s chocolate one-bowl brownies, any kind of cheesecake, and Nanaimo bars.
Nanaimo bars are a Canadian dessert. They are made of three delicious layers. The bottom layer is made of graham crackers, coconut, and chocolate. The middle layer is a vanilla buttercream kind of thing with custard powder or vanilla pudding powder. Then the top is a decadent and simple chocolate ganache.
I am inspired by so many things when I bake but one of my most favorite sources of inspiration is my cupboard. I cleaned out my pantry this weekend and found graham crackers, coconut, and pistachios and dreamed up these Nanaimo bars. I also miss my sister Kate a lot (she lives in Boston) and I was thinking about her this weekend.
For a twist on the traditional Nanaimo bar I made the middle layer with powdered sugar and homemade pistachio paste. Nanaimo bars are one of those too sweet desserts if you know what I mean. I wanted to temper that sweetness with salt so I added it in every layer and sprinkled it on top. If you aren’t a fan of the salt (is that possible, anyone out there this applies to? Hahha) you can omit it.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur.
Salted Pistachio Nanaimo Bars
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder, dutch process if available
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 graham crackers)
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the base layer
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
- In a high powered blender or food processor, add the graham crackers and process till fine crumbs form. Add the pistachios and coconut and blend.
- Add coco powder and sugar and blend.
- Add butter, egg yolk, and salt and blend till the base layer comes together. Press into prepared pan.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
For the middle layer
- In blender combine butter, pistachios, and powdered sugar and blend till thick and paste like.
- Add rest of ingredients and blend.
- Spread on top of baked base layer.
For the topping
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine cream and chocolate. Heat until melted then pour over the top of the pistachio middle layer. Sprinkle with sea salt.