Happy birthday to my Dad! He turned 65 yesterday, which is a big deal, but shows zero signs of slowing down or becoming a *gasp* “senior citizen”. In fact, he’s starting a brand new career as I post this! Very inspiring stuff, dad. Love you!
Nanaimo bars were a special treat in my house growing up – definitely one of my dad’s go-to baking projects whenever we were all craving a little chocolate. They’re easy to make gluten-free by subbing the graham crumbs with gluten free graham crumbs, meaning my mom could eat them too. Plus they’ve got all this 1950s nostalgia attached to them, and strong Canadian vibes. Win and win.
As a kid, I was always super stoked on the chocolate base and chocolate topping, but only medium into the traditional bright yellow custardy filling (why was it so yellow??). So I was thinking about my dad a lot when I was creating and testing this recipe for these “sans yellow middle” Salted Tahini Nanaimo Bars. Though I’m sure a few diehard fans will *tsk tsk* me for changing up the filling, the tahini is sooooo complimentary to this chocolate sandwich, just like peanut butter but slightly more elegant and subtle. You have to try it! Ditto for the pinch of salt I added to the chocolate topping. Besides being the best way to consume chocolate, adding a touch of salt to something that is typically overbearingly sweet is just a nice way to live your life.
I love finding new ways to class up an old standby, especially when there’s a birthday to celebrate. So here you go, Dad – a virtual birthday treat. Next time we see each other in person, maybe I’ll have some of these Salted Tahini Nanaimo Bars tucked into my carryon!
You can eat now!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
- 2 tbsp custard powder
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter (soft)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (1 package)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp good salt
- Grease a 9x9 pan (or line it with parchment paper).
- Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir in sugar and cocoa until smooth.
- Whisk in egg and vanilla.
- Remove from heat as soon as the mixture is smooth.
- Stir crumbs, coconut, and nuts into mixture and press evenly into pan.
- Chill in fridge while working on the filling (at least 20 minutes).
- Beat all ingredients together until smooth.
- Pour mixture evenly over base and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight (it is important for the filling to set completely before adding the chocolate on top, to get the correct Nanaimo bar texture).
- Melt the chocolate, butter, and salt over low heat until smooth. Be careful not to over cook!
- Pour mixture evenly over chilled filling and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes (optional).
- Chill in the fridge until the topping begins to harden (about 10-15 minutes).
- Remove bars from pan and cut into 12 pieces.*
- Serve immediately!