My husband and I had two major hurtles to overcome before we were married:
First, he preferred at least one percent milk, while I was raised on skim alone.
Second, whenever he was offered sweets, he did not feel the need to eat one—or five—of them, like I did. What?
The first problem Anthony solved when he texted me one day, “I found a solution to all our marriage problems!” Confused, I inquired what he meant. “If I add a little cream to skim milk, it tastes like one percent! We will never argue about which kind of milk to buy!” I laughed and shook my head, both disgusted and impressed at his "compromise." (We now both drink skim milk, by the way.)
Having a major sweet tooth, though, I thought the latter problem seemed the real disconnect. Sweets were my love language, meaning I enjoy both giving and receiving sweet treats. I often surprised my field hockey teammates with cookies after practice, made my roommates banana bread, and these days I lug cakes via public transportation for my co-workers’ birthdays. I even managed to bring a triple layer cheesecake through airport security for Anthony’s birthday one year. Gifting my sweet concoctions has long been my way of celebrating and showing others I care.
So, when I first made Anthony something sweet and he did not dig into it right away, I was obviously offended. Did I do something wrong? Do you not like my gift? It required a lot of explaining that no, Kelsey, not everyone wants to double fist cookies and brownies at the same time, before I learned not to take Anthony’s seemingly abnormal behavior personally.
However, learning of my then-boyfriend’s apathy toward sweets did not stop me. I was determined to make this Italian stallion an offer he could not refuse. My field hockey coach from Canada had recently brought our team these lightly-coconut, chocolate, creamy dream bars, named for the three layer rock they resemble in Nanaimo, Canada. Considering Anthony’s love for coconut and chocolate I knew I had found a winner. Being in a long distance relationship ("LDR") at the time, I appeared on Anthony’s college campus for the first time with these bad boys in hand. Let’s just say, we were finally speaking the same love language.
No-Bake Nanaimo Bars Recipe
Adapted from my college teammate’s fabulous food blog, The Bite Sized Baker
As someone who is not the biggest fan of coconut, I still devour these bars! The coconut flavor is subtle; obvious enough for coconut lovers like my husband, but not overwhelming for those apathetic about coconut like me. When I served these for dessert recently, my friend raved about them and asked for the recipe. Without further ado, here you are, Kit!
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white sugar
5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons milk*
*The recipe calls for heavy cream, but me being me, I only had skim milk, and that works just fine.
2 Tablespoons instant vanilla pudding powder
2 Cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 Teaspoons butter
- On top of a double boiler (I just use a glass bowl sitting on a pot filled with boiling water), combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, about two to three minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs and coconut .
- Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (enough to overlap on all four sides). Press the batter down in the pan to form the first layer.
- For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, milk (or heavy cream) and the vanilla pudding powder until light and fluffy (this may take a while). Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
- While the second layer is chilling, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and two teaspoons butter together over low heat, or for short bursts in the microwave. (If using the microwave, I recommend melting the chocolate and butter separately.)
- Spread the third layer (chocolate-butter mixture) over the chilled bars. Let the bars set (and the chocolate cool completely) before cutting. When the chocolate has cooled and hardened, lift the whole thing out of the pan by lifting with the parchment paper. Cut, serve, and enjoy!
Baker's Tip: Add food coloring to the creamy middle layer to make these bars appropriate for any holiday or celebration - green for St. Patrick's Day, pink for Valentine's Day, red for Christmas, yellow for Easter!
With a little grace,