Fresh Mint Nanaimo Bars

from The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes

Nanaimo bars are a Canadian dessert made up of three layers: a coconut crumb base, a creamy custard filling and a chocolate top! Striking when cut, but easy to assemble. I put my own spin on this classic by adding fresh mint leaves to the custard layer and swapping in chocolate crumbs instead of graham cracker crumbs for the base. As always, you can customize the strength of the flavor to your own personal preference. Nanaimo bars are decadent and are best served in small pieces.

Yield: 1 (8 x 8–inch [20 x 20–cm]) pan, about 16 servings


1 tbsp (8 g) ground flaxseed

3 tbsp (45 ml) water

⅓ cup (80 ml) melted unsalted butter

1½ cups (150 g) chocolate baking crumbs, such as Oreo Baking Crumbs

1 cup (93 g) shredded unsweetened coconut

2 tbsp (30 g) granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

⅛ tsp salt


1½ tbsp (5 g) finely chopped fresh mint leaves (can substitute with mint extract to taste)

¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened

3 tbsp (45 ml) whole milk

2 tbsp (20 g) custard powder

2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar


1 cup (175 g) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

1½ tbsp (21 g) vegetable shortening

Line an 8 x 8–inch (20 x 20–cm) pan with parchment paper, making sure the parchment reaches the top of each side of the pan so it can be easily lifted out and the bars can be cut once assembled.

To make the base layer, in a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water. Set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, chocolate baking crumbs, shredded coconut, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in the flaxseed mixture until well combined. Firmly press the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and place in the fridge to set while you prepare the next layer.

To make the custard layer, muddle the mint leaves using a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cup or the end of a wooden spoon. This will help release the leaves’ flavor. Place in a medium bowl with the softened butter, milk, custard powder and powdered sugar. Mix on medium until smooth. Test and adjust the strength of the mint if necessary. I find the flavor tends to mellow out the more the bars sit, so start with a stronger flavor than you might think. Spread the custard layer over the chilled crumb layer and place back into the fridge.

To make the chocolate layer, in a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate and shortening together on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. The shortening is vital in helping the chocolate layer from becoming com-pletely solid, which would crack when cutting and eating. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before spreading smoothly over the custard layer.

Place the assembled bars back into the fridge for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate has begun to set but is not hard. Remove from the fridge and lightly score the chocolate layer with a sharp knife. This scoring process will help them not crack once you cut them when they’re fully chilled. Return the pan to the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and carefully cut all the squares. Serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: A great Canadian iconic dessert that’s easy to make and no baking! The addition of the flax and fresh mint will somewhat offset the guilty pleasure of this wonderful dessert. Enjoy!

Reprinted with permission from The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes by Kelsey Siemens. Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Kelsey Siemens.