These Creme De Menthe Nanaimo Bars are pictured on the cover of my first cookbook, “The Spirited Baker”. Not super traditional, but delicious!
Originally published September 9, 2020. Updated on 6/6/2021
It’s a fun cookbook - FULL of fun, tasty recipes using spirits and liqueurs for flavour. The first chapter even tells you how to make all kinds of liqueurs and flavour extracts of your own!
What are Nanaimo Bars?
If you’re not Canadian, you’re probably wondering what a Nanaimo Bar is, so let me back up a bit.
It’s a no-bake, 3 layer bar that is *quite* sweet... and immensely popular here - it’s a traditional Canadian treat!. They’ve been around since the 1950s, and originated in Nanaimo, BC.
The bottom later is chocolate, almonds, and graham crackers, the middle layer is a buttercream that’s been thickened with custard powder*, and then the whole thing is topped off with a thick chocolate ganache, that sets up like a frosting.
The middle layer CAN be flavoured - as it is here, with my Creme de Menthe Nanaimo bars - but usually isn’t, when purchased. The vast majority of Nanaimo Bars that you’ll see out in the wild have the standard yellowish center.
... and these can be purchased almost anywhere, mind you. Gas stations, grocery stores, festivals, farmers markets, and more. You can even buy boxed mixes to make them.
However, I like to mix it up every once in a while, and Creme de Menthe really works well with the other main flavours in Nanaimo Bars. You can even add a little green food colouring to the buttercream, if you like - I think the minty green colour is really pretty with this bar.
It makes a festive addition to holiday trays, by the way.
* If you don’t have access to custard powder - Bird’s is the most popular brand - you can always use pudding powder. Just make sure to use the “cook and serve” type, not instant.
More Nanaimo Bar Recipes!
Here are a few of my Nanaimo Bar recipes:
Of course, Nanaimo bars are just one example of the many treats we have here in Canada. The US may be known for their sugar consumption, but Canadians are the real Sweet Tooth MVPs, IMHO.
Hell, in Quebec, there’s a pie that starts out with literally packing a pie shell with brown sugar. If that’s not hardcore, I don’t know what is!
Nanaimo bars are just one of many fantastic Canadian recipes in my cookbook, "More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land”. "More than Poutine" is a Canadian cookbook like no other - written by a Canadian while living away, it includes both traditional home cooking recipes, as well as accurate homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!
More Canadian Goodies
Canadian goodies go WAY beyond Nanaimo Bars alone. Here are some other favourites:
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Creme De Menthe Nanaimo Bars
- ½ cup Butter unsalted
- ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
- 6 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
- 1 Large Egg beaten
- 1 ¼ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
- ½ cup Finely Chopped Almonds
- 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- 1 cup Butter Softened
- ⅓ cup Creme de Menthe liqueur
- 3 tablespoon Custard Powder or Cook-and-Serve Vanilla Pudding Powder If using pudding powde: NOT instant!
- 4-5 cups Confectioners / Icing / Powdered Sugar
- 6 oz Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate Squares
- 3 tablespoon Butter
- Melt butter in small saucepan. Add sugar and cocoa powder, mix well. Add egg, stir well. Egg will cook and thicken.
- Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into a larger bowl, along with the remaining bottom layer ingredients
- Mix well and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 8 x 8 pan. Set aside.
- Cream Butter. Slowly add creme de menthe to butter, mix to combine.
- Slowly and carefully add custard powder / pudding powder and confectioner’s sugar. Mixture should be VERY thick – add a little extra confectioner’s sugar if needed.
- Spread evenly over bottom layer.
- Melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then pour over middle layer.
- Chill in fridge before slicing into bars.