From their chocolate-y crust, to their chocolate glaze, to the custard filling in the middle, Vanilla Bean Nanaimo Bars are a no-bake cookie sure to please dessert lovers everywhere!
My Dad grew up in northwestern Washington (state, not District of Columbia) and, throughout my childhood, spoke fondly of the Nanaimo Bars he ate growing up.
Nanaimo Bars are native to Canada, and were very popular in that area when he was young—they’ve since become more known all over and I’ve been seeing recipes for them everywhere for a few years now.
But when I was in high school recipes were harder to come by. This was before EVERY recipe ever was available online, and back in a time when internet recipes were kind of untrustworthy. (Some refer to this time as the dark ages of the internet, but I prefer not to think of any point in my life as a dark age. I don’t feel old enough for that yet.)
But I digress.
When I was like 15, my dad found a Nanaimo Bar recipe in a magazine and, of course, asked me to make them; I was ecstatic. I wanted to taste this thing with the funny name I’d been hearing about my entire life. He hovered in the kitchen watching my every move and of course I scrambled the egg in the crust the first time and had to start over.
I’d blame his watchful eye but in truth I’m just spazzy in the kitchen.
Neither of us could wait to try the finished product. And they were gross. Dry and crumbly and overly sweet while at the same time, somehow flavorless. My dad said the recipe must not be fully authentic and didn’t blame my culinary skills for their ickiness. But I thought maybe he was just romanticizing Nanaimo Bars in his mind and that they were always just so-so.
After that disappointment I hadn’t wanted to give Nainamo Bars a second look until recently. I came across a Nanaimo Bars recipe in a magazine a few weeks ago and then couldn’t get them out of my mind. I believe in second chances so I ordered custard powder from Amazon and, exactly two days later, was ready to go.
That recipe also had an egg in the crust so I decided to wing it and make my up my own recipe, hoping to avoid scrambled eggs. And since I had a vanilla bean lying around, I threw that into the custard filling. More vanilla makes everything better. #truth
And do you know what? I loved them. LOVED THEM! This crust was a little crumbly, but in a good way. A graham cracker-y way. The custard filling was sweet but didn’t make my teeth shiver, and the chocolate glaze on top added that little extra oomph that only a chocolate glaze can.
The best part about this recipe, though, is that it’s NO-BAKE. One hundred percent oven-free, just perfect for the heat over here in Phoenix at the moment. (Oh hey, have I mentioned that none of the windows in the new house have blinds? We ordered last week but they won’t be here for a month. So no-bake is a very good thing right now.)
Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you have a chance this week to make yourself a batch of Nanaimo Bars. I promise you won’t regret it!