I don’t think much about Mermaids on a daily basis. They cross my mind while watching Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’ mid-summer, when I see movie trailers (currently for ‘Pan’) and when I drive down a main drag in Boulder where hanging from the top balcony of a three story apartment complex is the bottom half of a mermaid tail in view of the street. The latter has piqued my curiosity about what is on the other end. Being in a landlocked state, sea life, real or whimsical, isn’t my usual mental fodder. We are more apt to consider the likelihood of Big Foot.
When spending time by the sea, that all changes. While traveling through the Canadian Maritimes this summer, we were always by the water. We took long beach walks. We looked constantly for whales from the shore or the car ferries. While at the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick we did a rigorous sea kayaking session. When being reminded of what to do in the freezing water if one’s kayak tips over, and then watching that come into play when someone in the group did tip over caused thoughts of everything that might lurk in the deep blue-green waters of the bay. As well as of every scary movie scene of surprises popping out of said water, whether real or mythical.
One thing I’ve certainly never given thought to is how I’d go about catching a mermaid. Or even whether I’d want to. However when stumbling into a little bakery in a seaside town that was reputed to have gluten-free options, I spied something in the bakery case I could not rid from my mind: Mermaid Bait Bars.
The presence of the bars seemed thoughtful, and deliberate, and even perhaps ‘real’. Unfortunately this bakery seemed to be baiting gluten-eating Mermaids so I was unable to try the bar myself. Being desperate to learn the secrets of the bar I persuaded my husband to buy one and then annoyingly hung about 2 inches from his face asking 100 questions as he took each bite. After piecing together my best guess at what might be in them, I vowed to make a gluten-free batch once home (there must be gluten-free mermaids out there, don’t you think so?).
They are very easy bars to make with a mere six ingredients. A simple graham cracker crumb crust covered with a mix of chocolatey baking chips transform into a gooey taste treat anyone would love. They are definitely sweet (but living in a salty environment I would think mermaids would crave sweetness). I think they are perfect cut into 1-inch by 1-inch squares which satisfy one’s craving and yet are small enough that there is no guilt if popping a few in the mouth!
The bars have been a big hit! I will say I have not yet caught a mermaid, but have definitely caught a few kids with their hand in the Mermaid Bait Bar box!
Mermaid Bait Bars
- 2 cups Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crumbs* or 1 ½ cups regular Graham Cracker Crumbs
- ½ cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 14- ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 cup Butterscotch Baking Chips
- ¾ cups White Chocolate Chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 inch by 9 inch baking pan by spraying with no-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter. Stir to fully incorporate.
- Spoon crumb-butter mixture into the prepared baking pan and press to form a crust covering the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker crust and using a mixing spoon spread to cover the crust fully.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the three baking chips and mix. Pour the chips evenly over the sweetened condensed milk to cover.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, remove and allow to fully cool before cutting. Cut into desired bars (1-inch by 1-inch bars are perfect in my opinion). Note: the bars have a gooey center; if a firmer texture is desired they may be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container, otherwise they may be stored at room temperature.
i actually worked at this restaurant a few years ago – The Octopus Garden in Alma, New Brunswick. So cool to come across this when looking for a similar recipe! I just to let you know, they also add shaved almonds to their bars! Happy baking 🙂
Toni Dash says
I love getting your message and the insider tip! As you can tell I was playing ‘forensic baker’ without being able to give it a taste!
Rachel Fletcher says
Hi Toni! I never thought of looking to see if these made it online yet until a long time customer came in today and said he found these online, lol! The bakery you found these in is called An Octopus’ Garden cafe, and it is in Alma, NB. I created these bars back in 2010 when we first opened the cafe. You are suppose to place them at the water’s edge at low tide, and when the tide comes in the mermaids try and grab them 😉 Only
In Fundy though! Haha You got the recipe very close to the original! There is a few differences though. First, I make them by making my own condensed milk by cooking milk and sugar together. Second, I use only butterscotch and white chips and I use almond slivers. I bake them for 20 minutes at 350, and add the chocolate at the end by melting semisweet chocolate in a small pot with butter and drizzling it overtop with a spoon or fork (or whatever I have handy lol) I love seeing the impact one little creation can make throughout the world and on other people’s lives in a positive way. It is so neat! Thank you for this!
Toni Dash says
Rachel!!! I’m so excited to get your comment! I of course remember the Octopus’ Garden and wrote about it in a more travel related post about our visit to Alma. We found you late in our few day visit and would have eaten there daily had we discovered you earlier. Your gluten-free pasta was amazing and such a wonderful treat for us (my kids and I are GF) and the kindness of those working at the cafe did not escape our notice. I love knowing more about the bars and how you make them. In Colorado there aren’t many mermaids (maybe some fresh water lake sirens?) but whenever I make them I am ever hopeful to catch one!