Nanaimo Parfait

Story and recipes by Debbi Snook | Wine Commentary by Gary Twining

Photo by Beth Segal

No-bake Nanaimo Bars, originating from Vancouver, are a potluck dessert of Canada. The version we tried had a buttercream layer that was jarringly sweet, so we deconstructed and adapted into this parfait. Feel free to substitute French Vanilla ice cream for the lower layer of whipped cream. The crunchy and nut-studded chocolate bottom is what these bars are all about.

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 10 whole crackers
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened

Cream layer:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant powdered vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate ganache layer:
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (bittersweet, if you prefer)
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter

Make liquid for base in microwave by melting sugar, butter and cocoa in a heatproof bowl for 30 seconds. Stir. If not completely blended, cook in 10-second intervals and stir after each interval until smooth, and a bit of steam is produced. Do not let it bubble up. Add egg and stir in vigorously.

In food processor, process almonds to get fine crumbs. Add graham crackers and pulse until fine. Add coconut and do the same. Place in bowl, add melted chocolate mix and stir together. Divide evenly into serving dishes, patting down lightly.

Add vanilla extract and pudding powder to cream and whip until hard peaks form. Set aside.

For ganache, melt the 4 ounces of chocolate with the 2 tablespoons butter for 30 seconds in microwave. Stir until smooth. If still chunky, heat in 10-second intervals in the microwave until it stirs together completely.

Top base in serving dishes with half the whipped cream. Divide ganache evenly among dishes, then add another layer of whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

Gary: The richness and chocolate in this dessert call for a richly sweet wine with balancing acidity. Look for ice wines from the Niagara Peninsula or from Ohio for their steely acidity and rich sweetness. A late-harvest Tokay (5 puttonyos level or above) from Hungary would pair nicely, as would youthful Sauternes/Barsac from Bordeaux, late-harvest Chenin Blanc from the Loire (Coteaux du Layon or Bonnezeaux), and Demi-sec-style Champagne.


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