David Maddison

David's recipes: Nanaimo Bars (Nunavut variant)

These are a variant of nanaimo bars. They are called Nunavut in honor of Canada's newest territory, and because of the snow-white middle layer (if you use cream cheese). If one is asked what part of these is good for you, the answer is "nunavut". (I realize the pronunciation isn't quite right for the play on words, but it is close.)

These bars aren't as sweet as regular nanaimo bars.


          1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
          1/2 cup granulated sugar
          1/2 cup cocoa
          1/2 cup black cocoa
          2 egg equivalents (it is best to use a sterilized egg product such 
                      as EggBeaters to avoid problems with Salmonella)
         3-4 cups graham cracker crumbs (usually a whole 13.5 oz box, sometimes a bit more)
          1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
          1 cup chopped pecans

Middle Layer

          12 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature  OR  8 tbsp butter
          3 tbsp custard powder
          2 tsp Grand Marnier
          3/4 to 1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar



          12 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
          3 tbsp butter

Base: Mix together melted butter and sugar. Add to this cocoa, then eggs. Beat until smooth. Add graham wafer crumbs and mix thoroughly. Add coconut and walnuts, and mix. Press into 2 9-inch square pans. Refrigerate while making middle layer.

Middle Layer: Cream together cream cheese, custard powder, and Grand Marnier. Gradually blend in confectioners sugar. Spread evenly over base. Chill well before icing.

Icing: Melt chocolate and butter together on low heat. Spread onto chilled middle layer. Important: if the chocolate icing is too hot, or the middle layer isn't cold enough, the chocolate will melt the middle layer. But if the chocolate is too cold and the middle layer is too cold, the chocolate will be very hard to spread.

Chill in a refrigerator, but cut into pieces before the chocolate on top has completely hardened. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes on ingredients:

black cocoa powder: This is the black cocoa they use to make some cookies so dark. You can get it from King Arthur Flour. If you don't have black cocoa powder, you can substitute regular cocoa powder as an acceptable, but less-than-ideal alternative.

Custard powder: This is easy to find in Canada, where there are several brands, but can be a bit more difficult in the U.S. The only one I have found in the U.S. is called Bird's Imported English Dessert Mix for Custard Style Pudding", and comes in a yellow, red, and blue box.

Graham cracker crumbs: The texture of the bottom layer is very sensitive to the amount of graham cracker crumbs used relative to the amount of liquid added by the egg equivalents. If there are too many crumbs, then bottom layer is too dry and crumbly, and doesn't hold together well enough; if there are too few crumbs, the bottom layer is too liquidy. I find that two large eggs have less liquid than 1/2 cup of EggBeaters, and that if one uses two large eggs, then 3 cups of crumbs is about right, or even too much, but if one uses 1/2 cup of EggBeaters, then the full 13.5 oz box of crumbs is about right or not enough. If once you add the crumbs and mix them the mixture is very gooey, then add more crumbs until the mixture is not extremely moist, but don't add so many that it becomes very crumbly.

©2006 David R. Maddison