Today I have a very Canadian treat to share with you. Nanaimo bars! All the Canadians reading this are licking their lips, but the rest of you are probably going, huh? Nanaimo bars are a tray dessert made up of a crust layer of crushed graham crackers, nuts, coconut and chocolate, a filling of fluffy vanilla frosting and a chocolate topping. But I wanted to do something a little more special and a little more green (after all it is St. Patrick’s Day) so here is a recipe for pistachio Nanaimo bars!
These lovely bars are a mainstay of the deli section at the grocery story and I used to beg my Dad to buy them for us. I didn’t actually try making them at home until adulthood. I remember the moment strongly—it was one of those great triumphant feelings of adulthood. I can make and eat them whenever I want?? Wow.
And yes it does use instant pudding mix (the original uses bird’s custard powder) and I’m sure that crushed pistachios and gelatin might work… but this is the slightly sleazy mid-century dessert we love, so just embrace it.
Now of course these are major treats absolutely packed with butter and sugar, so while we CAN have them whenever we want, the other adult side of me says, let’s save these for special occasions.
This recipe is adapted from the official city of Nanaimo (where the recipe originated) version and it makes a huge tray so if you make them, consider freezing half so they don’t get stale. They also make a great treat for a party. I love making them to surprise my American pals!
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1 cup finely chopped pistachios
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup instant pistachio pudding mix
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped pistachios