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.