These squares are rich, sinful, and delicious. They also come together easily, with most of your time being spent waiting while they chill which means you can, too! Sitting on top of the chocolate coconut crumb base is a sweet custard layer which is finished with a silky chocolate ganache. These taste the same as the non-vegan original and no one will miss the dairy or eggs! Vegan sweetie for the win!
Nanaimo bars were something my mom would make, not necessarily for special occasions but, for when we had company. Given how rich they are, I can now understand why – a whole pan of indulgence hanging out in the fridge is not something we need everyday, right? Hands down these treats were what I looked forward to most at potlucks or when my parents had friends over. With each mouth-watering bite, the cool chocolate gave away into a sweet custard which ended in the smooth and yet slightly crunchy base. Heaven in a pan!
Vegan Nanaimo Bars
For the Base:
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp plant-based milk (I use soy)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup fancy shred coconut, unsweetened
For the Custard Filling:
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 3 tbsp vegan custard powder
- 2 tbsp unsweetened plant-based milk
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
For the Ganache Topping
- 4 ounces vegan semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips
- 2 tsp neutral oil (e.g avocado or canola)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. For ease of removing the squares when they are ready to cut, line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing some of the paper to hang over the sides (2 pieces cut the width of the pan usually work best so the paper lies flat).
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, sugar, milk, cocoa powder and vanilla together until smooth. Stir in the graham wafer crumbs and coconut until well blended. Press the mixture evenly into the pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the custard powder and sugar. Add the vegan margarine and mix with a fork or beaters until blended. Slowly add the confectioners sugar, alternating with the plant-based milk until you have a smooth custard or frosting consistency. Spoon over the cooled base. Cover and place in the fridge for about an hour or until cool.
- Melt the chocolate pieces in a small bowl. You can do this over a double boiler, or you can put them in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring well each time you check on it. Chocolate burns very easily. Add the oil to the melted chocolate and mix until completely blended. Pour over the chilled bars and, with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, gently smooth it evenly over the custard filling. Place it back in the fridge to set up, about an hour.
- When cutting into squares, fill a tall mug with hot water. Have a towel or napkin ready. Heat the blade of a sharp knife in the hot water, dry off and then score the chocolate where you plan on cutting it. This helps the chocolate not to crack when you cut the squares right through to the base.