Espresso Nanaimo Bars

Espresso Nanaimo Bars

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while! I hope you’re doing fine and  that your Christmas baking is going well! Great news, I’m now an official Ph.D. candidate! My thesis project was approved and I’m moving forward with it 😀 This explains the long hiatus in posting 😉

If your holiday baking is over, I’m very sorry, because you’ll certainly want to add this dessert to your table! In my family, no Christmas would be complete without delicious Nanaimo Bars. As far as I can remember, my mom brought them to every holiday party we had. Normally, we go with the classic custard-cream filling. But this year it was time to try something new: espresso filling. Let me tell you that I have no regrets at all! Anyway, it’s hard to go wrong when you mix chocolate and coffee!

Espresso Nanaimo Bars

Don’t hesitate to do the bars in advance. They freeze well and the flavor gets better over time!

I wish you a merry Christmas. I hope it’s filled with joy, laughter, love and good food 😀


Espresso Nanaimo Bars
Adapted from Kitchen Simplicity
Yield: about 40 small squares


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla pudding powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar


  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8 inch square pan and line with parchment paper leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  3. Beat the butter and the sugar until creamy. Sift in the cacao and mix well.
  4. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
  5. Add the graham and chocolate cookie crumbs and the coconut. Mix well.
  6. Press into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes then refrigerate for about 20 minutes.


  1. Beat all ingredients together until well combined and smooth.
  2. Spread over base. Refrigerate.


  1. Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat. Cool. Spread on top of filling.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

To serve

Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper overhang. To cut the bars without cracking the top layer of chocolate, run your knife under hot water before cutting. Using a very thin knife is helpful too. Clean the knife with paper towel after each cut to get clean squares.

Cherry and Chocolate Christmas Cookies

Cherry and Chocolate Christmas Cookies

Hi everyone!

Here is the cherry cookie recipe I told you about in my last post. You really need those for Christmas, they are always a huge success. And with these red and green maraschino cherries, they are perfect for the holidays! You can bake them in advance and freeze them until Christmas.

I was totally amazed last week when I went to the grocery store and saw that there was not just only red and green maraschino cherries, but blue, yellow and orange ones too! Did you know that? Took me all my will to turn around and go without buying some. Imagine the nice rainbow desserts you could do with those! *Sigh*.

Sorry for this quick post, it’s end of term rush at school! It’s ending this Friday!


Cherry and Chocolate  Christmas Cookies
Yield 3 dozens

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, coarsely chopped (green and red)


  • Cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl until the mix is light and creamy.
  • Add the eggs and the almond extract beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add to creamy mixture gradually beating on low speed.
  • Stir in the choolate chips, coconut and cherries.
  • Drop tablespoons fill in greased baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper).
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350°F or until the sides of the cookies are slightly brown.


New Design and Macaroons Cookies (no-bake)

Macaroons Cookies no bake

I bring you the new design of Sugar for the Brain! I really hope you like it, I sure do! Don’t hesitate to leave me your comments!

Here is another very easy recipe of what my family and I call Macaroons cookies (nothing to do with de French macarons). Chocolate, coconut and oat, this is good!

The challenge here was to make them look great on the photo because, well it doesn’t look fantastic normally. I did want you to crave them! So a little whipped cream here and using a cookie scoop there and it’s better!

Have a great week!


Macaroons Cookies (no-bake)

Yield about 20 cookies

1/2 cup milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Bring the milk, the sugar and the butter to a boil.

Stir and continue to boil for 1 minute, until the sugar melt.

Remove from heat and add the oatmeal, coconut, cocoa powder and vanilla.

Mix thoroughly.

Drop heaps onto a wax paper, chill.


Halloween Nanaimo Squares

Halloween Nanaimo Squares

Hi everyone!

I hope you had a great week. Mine was quite scary (and not because I was preparing a Halloween post). I began school 2 weeks ago and I’m already in a rush! It’s usual so don’t fear for me! And life being what it is, there is also a rush at work, just to turn up the heat! Welcome back motivation!

Back to our recipe, I know I’m a little bit ahead of time for Halloween, but I just love this holiday. For the past 3 years I haven’t been able to celebrate because it was mid-term rush. This year there is NO way I’m not celebrating (even if it will be mid-term rush)! For the next weeks until Halloween I will be posting Halloween treats (cake pops, cookies, cupcakes)!  There will be one exception though because there is a special day coming, stay tuned!

So here is a recipe my family usually do for Christmas (?). I know it’s strange, but when I saw these in the Bulk Barn flyer I thought it was an adorable idea. The colors were perfect: the black of the chocolate and the orange of the cream! My pictures didn’t turn out that well, but you see the idea!

Halloween Nanaimo

Halloween Nanaimo Squares ||
Version française
Yield : 25 squares

Bottom layer
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup cacao powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup chocolate cookie crumbs
¾ cup graham wafer crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut

Middle layer
⅓ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons custard powder (or vanilla pudding powder)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
About 1/8 cup milk  ** More or less depending on the firmness desired
Orange food coloring

8 squares (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8 inch square pan and line with enough parchment to make it overhang on the 2 sides.

Step 1: Bottom layer
Combine the butter and the sugar. Sift in the cacao and mix well.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Add the graham and chocolate cookie crumbs and the coconut. Press into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes then refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Step 2: Middle layer
Cream together the butter and the custard powder. Add the vanilla and the milk. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at the time until smooth. Add the orange coloring. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.

Step 3: Glaze
In a bowl, melt the semisweet chocolate and the butter over a boiling pot of water. Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Finally you can use royal icing to pipe some spider webs on the squares.

Halloween Nanaimo


Rocky Road Squares

Rocky Road Squares

When I began this hobby, it was all about cupcakes. I had been completely awed before these too cute to be true cakes. And you know there is this frenzy all over the web (or should I say all over the world) for these fairy cakes. Well I had been completely engulfed in this mania and I still love those cuties.

But here I am, ready to write this second post and yet I am not writing about cupcakes. I will have plenty of time to go back and talk to you of some of my experiences with them. But those days are not about cupcakes. On the way I have discover a lot of different types of dessert that I want to bake, and as you will see in my to do list, I am not currently running out of ideas!

Here is a recipe my mom used to do when I was young. My sister and I loved it (what’s not to love, it must be more than your daily portion of sugar in one day!). Chocolate, marsmallows, coconut, graham. This is just too good! We call them “Carrés rochers” in french.

Rocky mountain

Rocky Road Squares

Original recipe from Eagle brand

Yield : about 24 squares
¾ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups graham wafer crumbs
1 ½ cups flaked coconut
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 pkg (300 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1.  Combine the melted butter and the graham crumbs; press onto 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
2.  Add in layers the coconut, the walnuts, the chocolate chips and marshmallows over crust. Pour the condensed milk evenly over all.
3.  Bake at 350°F 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
4.  Remove from oven; drizzle with melted chocolate.
5.  Cool completely. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

Rocky mountain