Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raspberry Nanaimo Bars

I made homemade graham crackers last week, but I forgot one crucial bit of information: we don't eat many graham crackers around here. After stuffing ourselves with S'mores, we were left with a large Ziploc bag of crackers rapidly going stale. What to do? You know the saying-when life gives you graham crackers, make Nanaimo bars. (You did know that saying, right?)

Nanaimo bars are named after the town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The local lore is that a resident of Nanaimo entered her special cookie bars in a baking contest and named them after her hometown. They became a sensation and are now sold across the US and Canada, sometimes under different names like "New York Slice." The bars consist of three layers: a chunky base with cocoa, crushed grahams, coconut, and nuts, a creamy vanilla custard middle layer, and a soft chocolate glaze on top. I decided to spruce up my bars by adding raspberry puree to each layer, for a delicious chocolate-raspberry flavor combination.

Bottom Layer:

1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup seedless raspberry puree*
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups graham cracker wafers
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Place the butter in a medium saucepan, and place it over medium heat until melted. Add the sugar, cocoa powder and raspberry puree and stir until smooth and well-combined. Add the egg and take the pan off the heat, stirring constantly to incorporate the egg. Once the mixture thickens, stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Scrape the mixture into a 9x9 pan lined with aluminum foil, and firmly press it into an even layer.

Middle Layer

1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup seedless raspberry puree*
3 tbsp instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter in a stand mixer. Add the puree, pudding mix, and powdered sugar and beat for several minutes until fluffy and light. Spread the raspberry cream over the bottom layer and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Top Layer
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp cream
1 tbsp seedless raspberry puree*
*To make seedless raspberry puree, blend fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries and pour them through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Place the chocolate, cream, and puree in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds and stir. If the chocolate is not fully melted, microwave for an additional 15 seconds and stir until melted. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry cream and smooth it into a thin, even layer. Place the bars in the refrigerator until the top layer is set, about 20 minutes.


  1. Elizabeth- these were amazing! Chris saved me one from the boy's meeting the other night! That bottom layer is killer. Thanks!

  2. Neat take on nanaimo bars!

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers, good luck with this month's challenge!

  3. Oh yum! We went to Nanaimo a few years ago while on a cruise and were introduced to these bars. I love your take on them. I'm going to make a copy of this recipe and add it to my ever growing list of things I need to make.