As someone who has tried and failed (a lot) at creating baked goods that cater to all of my friends’ dietary needs, it is my humble baking opinion that there are many things that just cannot be both gluten free and vegan. Often times, a gluten free recipe really needs an egg for the fat, moisture and rise that it provides, and a vegan substitute just won’t do. This is why bakeries aren’t often lined with pastries/breads that are both gluten free AND vegan.
I’m happy to report that this problem does not apply to these nanaimo bars. These are a no bake bar, so they are pretty easily transformed into a delicious gluten free and vegan dessert to please all of your gluten/dairy intolerant or vegan friends (insert joke about vegans not having friends because they are no fun…).
This recipe also has some wiggle room: if you’re looking for a more granular texture to the base, akin to what graham cracker crumbs would provide, you can sub in some ground almonds for the sorghum flour (I had success with substituting half a cup of ground almonds). I have also left a note below the recipe if you don’t have any custard powder (some ingenuity while i made these at my parents’ house). Another option I have not tried (but would probably be GODDAMN DELICIOUS) would be to substitute the earth balance for coconut oil in the crust, and hey, since you’re already going that far, why not try it in the custard also? Don’t blame me if it goes terribly, it was only a suggestion.. 🙂 But if you do feel so bold, these bars would probably need to be refrigerated because the coconut oil will melt more easily, creating a wonderful chocolate-y mess on your counter top.
nanaimo bars (vegan, gluten free)
adapted from Canadian Living
makes 16 squares
1 flax egg (1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water)
13 T softened earth balance, divided (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup + 1 T)
1/4 t salt
1/4 c sugar
3/4 C shredded coconut
1 C sorghum flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
2 T custard powder
1/2 t vanilla
2 T almond milk
2 C icing sugar, sifted
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix together the flax egg and half a cup of the earth balance in a medium bowl. Add the salt, sugar, coconut, sorghum, and cocoa powder and stir until thoroughly combined. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment, and press the mixture evenly into the bottom. Cream together 1/4 cup earth balance, vanilla, and custard powder in a medium bowl, then stir in the icing sugar. Add the almond milk until you’ve achieved a thick but spreadable consistency. Spread over the mixture in the pan, and place in the fridge. Melt the chocolate chips and remaining 1 tablespoon of earth balance in a double boiler or the microwave until most of the chocolate is melted, and stir until smooth. Remove the pan from the fridge, and spread the chocolate mixture over. Refrigerate until set, then cut into 16 squares.
– You can sub oat or brown rice flour for the sorghum.
– Feel free to sub in 1/2 cup ground almonds for 1/2 cup of the sorghum flour.
– If you don’t have custard powder kicking around (I normally don’t), you can use 2 T arrowroot OR tapioca starch plus a teensy pinch of turmeric (though the latter isn’t integral to the recipe).
– I tried this with coconut oil instead of earth balance and it took these bars to a WHOLE OTHER COCONUTTY LEVEL.
– When serving this, I would suggest leaving it out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes so the chocolate on top softens slightly.