Oh Happy Day: Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

I’m not one for food holidays… I mean, do we really need to devote an entire day to chocolate covered cherries or ice cream for breakfast?  Still, when one of my favourite bloggy friends decided to declare March 25th as unofficial Chocolate Peanut Butter Day, I jumped on the bandwagon, mostly because I’d been looking for an excuse to make these Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars for ages.

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

So, what is Chocolate Peanut Butter Day, exactly? It’s a fun excuse to eat some chocolate and peanut butter hosted by Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Miriam of Overtime Cook, and featuring a total of 31 awesome recipes made with… you guessed it… chocolate and peanut butter. Follow the hashtag #chocPBday all day today and our Pinterest board to keep up with all the happenings!

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get back to the food. Nanaimo bars are an honest-to-goodness classic Canadian treat that features three distinct layers: a chocolatey cookie-crumb base, a creamy vanilla custard frosting middle, and a thin layer of ganache to top it all off.

Over the years, some resourceful bakers have discovered that the middle layer lends itself to a million and one variations, from Irish cream to mint to orange to mocha. Basically, any flavor that plays well with chocolate will do.

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

But today is Chocolate Peanut Butter Day, so this particular version has peanut butter in the middle. More specifically, white chocolate peanut butter, because the only thing better than chocolate and peanut butter is two kinds of chocolate and peanut butter.

If you can’t get your paws on some white chocolate peanut butter (or if you happen to eat the whole jar by accident, which may or may not have happened to me before), any ol’ kind of peanut butter will do. Skip the chunky, though, because what makes these bars so darn good is the contrast between the silky-smooth custard and the crunchy chopped nuts in the base.

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

It’s also all about the contrast between the tooth-aching sweetness of the middle layer and the deep, dark chocolatey flavour of the base and the ganache. This ain’t no time to go with milk chocolate… I’m talking about grabbing the darkest chocolate you can get. The 70% cocoa stuff, if you can find it. You won’t regret it.

Then, once it’s all done, park yourself on the couch with a Nanaimo bar in one hand and a double-double coffee in the other for the ultimate Canadian experience. Toque and hockey pads optional.

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32
 
The classic Nanaimo bar gets an upgrade with a sweet, smooth peanut butter filling. Betcha can't eat just one!
Ingredients
Base Layer:
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • ¾ cup finely chopped walnuts
Peanut Butter Filling:
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar
Chocolate Frosting:
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Instructions
Make the Base Layer:
  1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. Using a heat-proof spatula, stir in the sugar and cocoa until smooth, then add the eggs and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the bottom from scorching, until glossy and thickened.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the graham crumbs, chocolate crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Add the hot cocoa mixture, and stir to combine. Press evenly into a parchment-lined 9x13-inch pan, and place to the fridge to chill and set up for 15 minutes.
Make the Peanut Butter Filling:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and custard powder.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Stir in the custard, then gradually beat in the icing sugar, ¼ cup at a time, until the filling is thick and fluffy and smooth.
  3. Spread the filling onto the prepared crust in an even layer. Chill for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Make the Chocolate Frosting:
  1. In a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring frequently. Spread out into a thin layer onto the chilled filling. Return to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes longer, or until the filling is completely set, before cutting into squares and serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Notes
I used Peanut Butter & Co's White Chocolate Wonderful to give the filling a little extra oomph, but if you have any trouble finding it, regular smooth peanut butter is just as good.

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For more chocolate and peanut butter deliciousness, check out the rest of today’s posts:

Comments

  1. says

    Why doesn’t the heart-eyed smiley face emoji work on blog comments?! This is truly love at first sight. I regret never having had a Nanaimo bar when I was up in your fair country, but alas, I guess this just means I’ll have to make (and eat) an entire tray of these by myself… you know, for research. …and science.

  2. says

    I will take chocolate and peanut butter in any form. I have been known to spread straight peanut butter onto chocolate bars when a craving hits me. Your Nanaimo bars are straight out of my dreams. YUM to the max!!

  3. says

    Um absolutely we need Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. How in the world can you not celebrate that?!?! :D I’ve heard of nanaimo bars but never actually tried one. If I wasn’t leaving for work soon, I’d so make these babies right now.

  4. says

    Peanut butter and chocolate are my FAVORITE combo! Well, actually my second favorite. My first being peanut butter, chocolate and my mouth. :) I made nanaimo bars once and they were more than awesome. These are making me drool! I hope that’s not rude. I’m also staring at the last photo with the bar sitting there as if to say,”Just do it lady.” I know staring is rude but I just can’t help it!

  5. says

    I was first introduced to Nanaimo bars during our school’s International Fest in Kuala Lumpur when the Canadian contingent made them to share. They also displayed hockey sticks and Canadian flags and photos of Mounties, possibly a moose or two, but the Nanaimo bars were definitely the draw to their cultural presentation. You Canadians are pretty smart. Wonderful things, those Nanaimo bars! I love your version with white chocolate peanut butter in the middle!

  6. says

    “I mean, do we really need to devote an entire day to chocolate covered cherries or ice cream for breakfast?” <– yes, yes we do! Lol. Only because I DO eat ice cream for breakfast (because I'm a pig…or brilliant…or maybe both?) and it makes me feel better if it's a "food holiday". Isabelle, these Nanaimo bars look perfect! I love that you whipped white chocolate peanut butter into that creamy middle layer. I echo Liz's sentiment – this version kicks the original's version ass!

  7. says

    I don’t think one of these bars would make it from the kitchen to the couch. I’d inhale it right then and there.

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