Shamrock Nanaimo Squares are beautifully green and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! Add mint extract to the creamy, green filling and make your ‘Luck of the Irish’ kiss more memorable!
Whether they’re green or traditional yellow in colour, Nanaimo Squares have always been a classic and a favourite among both the young and old. When I was growing up, they were very common in our home and in the homes of our friends. Now though, I don’t see them that often. Sure, once in a while a bakery will stock them; and you’re almost guaranteed to see them at a Chinese buffet dessert bar.
I’ve decided to give my mom’s classic Nanaimo Square a little kick. Many, many years before my mom passed away, back when I decided I could make it on my own and rented my first apartment, I asked my mom for some of her recipes. I remember flipping though pages and pages of hand-written recipes. Most of those pages were stained with butter, oil, or egg.
Even though her recipes were supposed to be held together by a binder, many of the papers were loose and just tucked into each other. There were labels from cans, and portions of cut out cereal boxes and paper bags – all with recipes printed on them that she needed to keep.
Over the course of a few hours, I was able to write out the recipes of hers which I was most fond of, and off I went back to my apartment to bake and cook for myself. That day was over 22 years ago. Sometime during those years, I lost track of my notebook with my mom’s recipes in it. It’s funny how I look back now and wish more than anything I had kept that notebook safe. But, I remind myself that the notebook wasn’t what was important; it was sharing that time with her and calling later that evening to ask what a whisk was and what it did. I remember her saying, “Just beat the eggs with a fork. You don’t need anything fancy.” In her world, a whisk was fancy; simple was always best.
So, these Shamrock Nanaimo Squares are as close as I can get to my mom’s Nanaimo Square recipe. She’d be proud of me for adding mint to the filling – she was always making do with what she had on hand and improvising a recipe or two. And, if you’re not like me or my mom, you can omit the mint extract and the green food colouring completely and stick to the regular Nanaimo Square that you might be accustomed to.
As for me, I’ll celebrate my partial Irish heritage with a colourfully, vibrant, fresh-tasting, Shamrock Nanaimo Square. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dear Reader!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 large egg, whisked
- 1 3/4 cups graham crumbs
- 3/4 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon mint extract
- 1-2 drops green food colouring
- 1 cup dark melting chocolate
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-2 tablespoons candy sprinkles (optional)
- Prepare a 9X9" baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan, over medium heat, bring the butter, sugar, and cocoa to a low boil. Remove from heat, and whisk in the egg. Next, add the graham crumbs and coconut. Stir with a spatula to combine.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Be sure to get into the corners. Use the bottom of a flat-base drinking glass to press the crumb mixture evenly.
- Set the baking dish aside.
- Next, whisk together the butter, confectioner's sugar, milk, mint extract, and green food colouring. Whisk until creamy and lump-free.
- Spread the icing mixture evenly over the crumb mixture. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator until the next step is ready.
- In a double boiler, on a low simmer, melt together the butter and the dark melting chocolate until smooth.
- Gently smear the chocolate over the icing mixture. Sprinkle with St. Patrick's Day candies if using.
- Transfer baking dish to the refrigerator for 1 hour to set.
- Cut into squares and enjoy!