Fiction To Sink Your Teeth Into, a feature from author and professional chef Rohan O’Duill! This month, hijacked by Rachel A. Rosen.
Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian dessert, full of chocolate, coconut, and mint. In Zilla Novikov’s Query, they’re the perfect thing to bring along when you spring your love interest from jail after she’s been arrested at a protest. Typically, they’re made with eggs and dairy, but we’re all about saving the earth so I managed to find a great vegan recipe, which I adapted from Oh She Glows.
• ½ cup vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
• ¼ cup sugar
• 5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
• 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water, mixed)
• 1 and ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs. If you object to honey and can’t find vegan graham crackers, you can also just use any type of biscuit. If you use something like Oreos (I’ve done it, don’t judge, reduce or omit the cocoa powder).
• ¼ cup almonds, processed fine
• 1 cup unsweetened coconut
• ½ cup vegan butter
• 2 tbsp full-fat coconut milk
• 1.5 tsp pure peppermint extract
• 2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
• 2 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar, sifted
• Green food colouring (optional, but it looks cool)
• 4 oz non-dairy dark chocolate or semi-sweet plus 2 tbsp vegan butter
• Mint sprig (optional), or save a little coconut for sprinkling on top
- Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper and grease with butter on all sides. Leave a few inches of parchment hanging on the two ends so you can easily lift it up out of the pan when firm.
- Middle layer: Start with this one so it’s ready when your bottom layer is pressed into the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the food colouring and coconut milk, 1.5 tsp of peppermint extract, and the 2 tbsp custard powder. Stir until smooth. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Now add in the custard, coconut mixture, and peppermint extract mixture and beat for a few minutes. Gradually, add in the icing sugar and beat for about 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Set aside.
- Bottom layer: In a small bowl mix the flax egg together (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water). Set aside for a few minutes to allow it to thicken up. In a saucepan, whisk together the butter, sugar, and sifted cocoa powder. Heat on medium to low and stir frequently until smooth. Now add in the gelled up flax egg and stir well. It will have a strange gel-like consistency now, but have no fear! Stir for a minute or so. Now remove from heat and stir in the coconut, processed almonds, and graham wafer crumbs. Stir well and then mix with your hands. Press this mixture into your prepared pan, ensuring that you press it down very firmly and as evenly as possibly. You can use a pastry roller or the back of a spoon if you care about this kind of thing.
- Take your middle layer frosting and spread over top of the bottom layer. Smooth it out as evenly as possible. Place in the freezer until firm, about 45 mins.
- Top Layer: Melt your chocolate and butter in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave. Stir well until smooth and all clumps are gone. Remove the pan from freezer and spread the chocolate quickly over the top. Smooth out as much as possible and sprinkle on some more coconut. Place back in the freezer for about 1 hour until set. Once set you can transfer it to the fridge to keep until ready or you can place it on the counter for about 10 minutes before cutting it into squares.
Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to go to your next Stop the Greenbelt Development rally!