Minty Nanaimo Bar Recipe
Minty Nanaimo Bars are a Canadian treat that speaks of Christmas. They are perfect to make ahead and store in the freezer for when unexpected guests show.
This is the final week of International Cookie Month, where we focus on cookies that can be made ahead now and served later. This saves time when the crunch is on and gives us a freezer full of delicious treats that we can pull out when unexpected company comes. While this strategy is useful any time of the year, this season from November 1st to mid-January seems especially conducive to make ahead baking and unexpected company.
Today I’m sharing one of my family’s favourite Christmas treats – My Minty Nanaimo Bar recipe. The combination of mint and dark chocolate is Christmas at its best. And my recipe won’t have you running to the store for cookie crumbs before you can make them. You can even print the recipe out now to make later, using the print feature in my recipe widget.
The flavours of Christmas
Warm, dark chocolate and cooling mint remind me of Christmas. When I was a child the After Eight mints came in a personal package in my Christmas stocking, along with the Lifesavers candy book, a Japanese orange, and a quarter, stuck in the toe. I savoured the minty chocolate for days afterward, that is if my Mom didn’t insist I share with all her friends who came to drink at our house. Like Charlie, in the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, chocolate was an expensive treat that I liked to suck slowly, savouring for as long as possible.
When I had my own children, chocolate and especially mint chocolate, along with an orange, a looney, and a candy cane were essentials in the Christmas stockings. (A looney is the Canadian version of a silver dollar.)
Traditional Nanaimo bars, another Canadian invention, have a chocolate cookie crumb crust, a vanilla cream centre, topped with milk chocolate. My version is made from scratch, so there is no need to run to the grocery store and pick up chocolate wafers, nor custard powder, before making this deliciously rich treat. The chocolate topping is a combination of dark chocolate and white chocolate, I used Roger’s dark and white specialty chocolate. Feel free to use your favourite brand of chocolate – you’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how thick you like your chocolate. I replaced the vanilla custard powder with potato starch, tapioca starch, vanilla and peppermint flavouring extracts. Go easy on the peppermint or you’ll get a bitter aftertaste, in the bar.
This bar is easy to put together and you can make it now and slice it and store it in the freezer to serve during the holidays. If you double the recipe make two pans rather than 1 large pan. It’s easier to cut and serve that way.
A word about the natural food colouring
I was aiming for a bright minty green colour in the filling. Using India Tree natural dye food colouring, and using equal portions of blue and yellow, I was able to achieve an olive green colour, in this recipe. It took 2 tsp of each colour – about ½ the bottle. I added more yellow and lost the green completely. The food colouring is optional. But if you choose to colour it with India Tree naturally dyed food colours, consider just going with a bright yellow as the olive green wasn’t as appetizing in this bar.
The blue in this product is pH sensitive and acid will shift the colour from blue to reddish-purple if it’s used with acid food like lemon juice, orange juice, or vinegar. This means that green may be elusive if the other ingredients in your recipe are acidic.
While I loved the idea of using natural food colourings way more than the carcinogenic coal tar food colourings that are approved by the FDA, there is some compromise in both colour intensity and shade when working with natural colours in food. But I personally think the trade-off is worth the inconvenience. It’s a matter of retraining our sensibilities to a different standard of beauty – one of health and nutrition, rather than chemical dependency. Whether you use the food colourings or not is up to you.
Traditional Nanaimo bars have a chocolate cookie crumb crust, a vanilla cream centre, topped with milk chocolate. My version is made from scratch, so there is no need to run to the grocery store and pick up chocolate wafers, nor custard powder, before making this deliciously rich treat. The combination of mint and dark chocolate make this rich cookie bar a delicious after dinner treat, that you can make ahead and have ready when unexpected company knocks on the door.
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 ½ cups flour, organic whole wheat
- ¼ cup flax seed, freshly ground
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups of icing sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp. tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp. potato starch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 2 tsp. India Tree natural food colouring, yellow (optional)
- 1 ½ tsp. India Tree natural food colouring, blue (optional)
- 4 ounces of Dark Baking Chocolate, melted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 ounces of White Baking Chocolate, melted
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- In a small dish, with a fork, mix potato starch, tapioca starch and vanilla and peppermint extracts together until well blended.
- In a separate mixing bowl, cream together butter and icing sugar, ½ cup at a time.
- Add heavy cream and beat until smooth and light.
- Add in the starch-extract mixture and beat well.
- Add the India Tree natural food colouring ½ tsp at a time until you have the minty green colour that you prefer, and mixture is light and fluffy.
- Refrigerate until filling is solid – about 1 hour.
- Melt 4 oz of dark chocolate with coconut oil in a double boiler.
- Melt 4 oz of white chocolate with coconut oil in a double boiler.
- Keep chocolate separate until ready to top Nanaimo bar.
- Spread the dark chocolate first on 2/3rd of the Nanaimo bar. Spread with a spatula until the top is smooth and even.
- With a clean spatula spread the white chocolate on the other third of the Nanaimo bar.
- Take a fork and draw it through the surface of the chocolate to draw the white chocolate into the dark chocolate making decorative pathway. Continue using the fork to swirl the two chocolates together and add interest to the top of the bar. Less is more, don’t overdo.
- Chill for 1 hour.
- Score the bars completely through the top chocolate layer to make them easier to cut. At this point you can cut the bars and move them to a serving plate or a cookie tin.
- Serve immediately or keep them refrigerated.
- These are good make ahead bars. To save them for later, you can cover them with heavy plastic wrap, right in the glass pan, and store them in your freezer up to 3 months. Thaw for 2 hours before cutting. Don’t warm to room temperature before cutting, but cut them into bars while they are still chilled.
- Calories: 5770
- Sugar: 454
- Sodium: 218
- Fat: 333
- Saturated Fat: 203
- Unsaturated Fat: 106
- Trans Fat: 8
- Carbohydrates: 681
- Protein: 52
- Cholesterol: 580