Blending the flavors of a wintry mocha with a Canadian classic, these Nanaimo bars receive a boost from an espresso-spiked ganache, a dose of peppermint extract, and a lightly spiced cinnamon filling. At the base, rich macadamia nuts and sweet coconut flakes add a satisfying element of chew. For more cookie recipes from around the world, check out our 2018 Holiday Cookies special issue!
Peppermint Nanaimo Bars
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon (2.25 grams) kosher salt
- 1 large egg (50 grams), lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla bean paste
- ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) peppermint extract
- 1¾ cups (228 grams) shortbread cookie crumbs*
- ¾ cup (85 grams) sweetened flaked coconut
- ⅓ cup (38 grams) macadamia nuts, finely chopped
- Cinnamon Custard Filling (recipe follows)
- Espresso Ganache (recipe follows)
- Garnish: crushed peppermints
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan. Spray with cooking spray.
- In the top of a double boiler, combine butter, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until butter is melted. Add egg, vanilla bean paste, and peppermint extract; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cookie crumbs, coconut, and macadamia nuts. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan.
- Spread Cinnamon Custard Filling onto prepared crust, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Spread Espresso Ganache on top of Cinnamon Custard Filling, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and cut into bars. Top with crushed peppermints, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
* We used Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread.
Cinnamon Custard Filling
Makes 1⅔ cups
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla custard powder*
- 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2½ cups (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) heavy whipping cream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and custard powder at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar alternately with cream, beating until combined, about 1 minute.
*We used Bird’s Custard Powder.
Makes ½ cup
- 4 ounces (115 grams) 56% cacao semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1½ tablespoons (21 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon (2 grams) espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) heavy whipping cream, warmed
- In the top of a double boiler, combine chocolate, butter, and espresso powder. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in warm cream until combined.
These were absolutely delicious. I made this in a full sheet size for our bakery special of the week and they were a huge hit. I think the creaminess of the cinnamon custard really took it over the top.