I’m certain many of you will agree with me that one of the best parts about the holidays is the baking.
Ever since I was a munchkin, I have loved Nanaimo bars. When the mixes to make them started popping up over grocery stores, I knew the holidays were ‘a comin’!
Nanaimo bars are a quintessential Canadian classic, originating from the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia. I hear they served everywhere in that town, even on BC ferries. Honestly, these bars make me proud to be a Canadian, haha (amongst other more important reasons, of course).
Typical Nanaimo bars are made with eggs, butter and tons of sugar. But today’s recipe is a truly Canadian dessert with benefits. I didn’t stick to the traditional custard filling – I used soaked cashews and coconut oil to yield a creamy middle layer – which gives us the gift of healthy fats 😉 I threw some kale and spinach into the middle layer for a touch of antioxidants and vitamins. The base contains almonds for additional texture, fiber, calcium and vitamin E.
These Nanaimo bars may be vegan, but they’re still naughty, and they will rock your holidays, for sure. Plus, they’re so rich, it’s automatic portion control – one piece and you’re stuffed (with goodness!).
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Quit playing games with my heart!”
So time to spread some holiday cheer!
N.B. This is easily adaptable to gluten-free by using GF cookies for the base.
Minty Nanaimo Bars
For the cookie and nut base:
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance, my go-to)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 5 tbsp. cocoa powder (use only 2 tbsp. if you are using chocolate cookies like I did)
- 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
- 3 tbsp. water
- 1 1/4 cup vegan cookies such as Graham cookies (I used 3 pouches of Leclerc Praeventia dark chocolate with red wine extract cookies)
- 1/4 cup almonds (or Brazil nuts or walnuts)
- 1 cup shredded dessicated unsweetened coconut
For the oozy filling:
- 1 1/2 cup soaked cashews
- 80 g. fresh spinach and/or baby kale (I used a mix of both)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
For the chocolate topping:
- 5 oz. dark chocolate
- 3 tbsp. Earth Balance or coconut oil, melted
- Liberally grease a rectangular 11′ by 7′ or an 8′ by 8′ baking pan with coconut oil or vegan margarine. I used coconut oil for even more coconut flava!
- In a food processor, combine honey, vegan margarine, cocoa powder, flaxseeds, water and mix until well combined.
- Next, add in the cookies, coconut and almonds and pulse until these are broken up into smaller pieces, yet not too fine.
- Spoon into your pan and pat down. Place in fridge while you prepare middle layer.
- Combine all ingredients for your middle layer in the food processor (or mix in a bowl and use a hand-held blender).
- Pour atop the first layer and place in the freezer to allow both bottom layers to harden.
- Lastly, for the top layer, melt the dark chocolate and vegan margarine in a double boiler. Once melted, spread the melted choco over your minty layer and place back in the freezer for an hour.
- After that first hour, place the bars to set overnight in the refrigerator for optimal texture.
- These babies are good for 3 weeks, if properly covered in the fridge.
A Jenga stack of minty bliss. Rated “E” for epic 😉