How could I even think of doing ’12 Days of Naughty made Nice’ and not attempt making Nanaimo Bars? Especially since I now live in the province where they were invented for goodness sake! You are probably wondering how I could transform a traditional recipe that is FULL of eggs, custard powder (who knows what could be in there) and more refined sugar than any other recipe I have tried to transform over these last 12 days. Seriously!
I am happy to report that not only was I able to transform this into a vegan, gluten-free bar that tastes almost exactly like the traditional mint version BUT I can also tell you it has passed the “kid test” with several children (one who could eat them all night long…). I think you will be pleasantly surprised by just how good these Nanaimo Bar are! I have always preferred the mint flavour of Nanaimo Bars so I stuck with it for this version. No idea how it tastes without the peppermint – I was so excited that I had figured it out that I just put it straight in the pan!
The first and only time I have ever been to Nanaimo (yes, that is a real place) was when I was very young. My entire family (I say entire because there were 7 of us) flew from Ontario to visit my Grandfather. When we arrived in Nanaimo it became clear that my Grandfather’s health was failing. He died a few days later and our trip to Nanaimo extended to attend to his death. I will never forget that trip. To this day, I have always associated my Grandfather to Nanaimo bars. So, Grandpa Gus, this post is dedicated to you. I think you would have loved this version!
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ½ cup cacao powder
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in a ¼ cup water for 5mins
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 tbsp apple juice concentrate
- 1 tsp pure vanilla
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ tsp pure peppermint extract
- 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, shredded
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Soak cashews in water overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a bowl, mix together brown walnuts, cacao powder, rice flour, unsweetened coconut flakes, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, coconut oil, soaked chia seeds & xanthan gum. In an 8" x 8" pan lined with parchment paper, press this mixture into the pan to make a base for the bar. Bake in oven for 10mins. Set aside to cool.
- In a food processor or high powered blender, mix together raw cashews, apple juice concentrate, pure vanilla & water. Add peppermint extract. Spread filling mixture on chocolate base and refrigerate until firm.
- In the meantime, make the topping in a saucepan on medium-low heat, stir shredded chocolate, coconut oil & maple syrup. Pour over top of filling. Let is cool for about 5mins in the fridge, then score the bars. Refrigerate until chocolate is completely set (about 1hr).
- Refrigerate for 4 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.