Family Favourite: Nanaimo Bars

This month’s theme for What’s Baking was “family favourite”.  I already shared my family favourite Chocolate Cake recipe, CH’s favourite Banana Bread, and my personal favourite the Strawberry Tarts, so I had to think a little about what I wanted to bake this month.

It didn’t take long as I started thinking about my family, particularly my Mom and remembered one dessert that she loves and totally reminds me of her – Nanaimo Bars!

Now, the other thing about Nanaimo Bars, is that they apparently originate from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada – my home province (and hence their name)!  I grew up just across the water from Naniamo, and visited there often for hockey tournaments etc.  So, not only are these bars a family favourite, they originate close to home.  It was meant to be!  As another random fact, they are actually called “Canadian Bars” in Australia, too cute!

I have never made them from scratch before, and was surprised at how easy they were.  Three layers, no oven-baking required, no crazy ingredients, sounds like a perfect recipe to me!  The recipe below made quite a few, so they are now safely in the freezer, ready to be enjoyed whenever we are in need of a treat, or whenever guests’ pop over for a last minute visit/dessert.


Nanaimo Bars

Yield:  totally depends on how big/small you cut them…
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  no oven time required, melting chocolate etc. about 40 minutes

Ingredients & Directions:

Bottom Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1.25 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (you can also use walnuts)
  • 1 cup coconut

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and cocoa powder to the saucepan and whisk thoroughly until smooth and well incorporated.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes).

Remove from the saucepan from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and almonds. Press firmly and evenly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Second Layer

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Place the butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar in a large bowl and using a hand-mixer, beat the mixture until light and fluffy (it will take a few minutes, and will appear to form balls of mush, but keep going!). Spread the mixture over bottom crust layer.

Third Layer

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (or dark if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth and glossy. Allow the mixture to cool slightly (room temperature). Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, spread out into an even layer.

Cover the pan with seran wrap, and place in the fridge to cool & set.  It will take a few hours.  Alternatively, you can cover it with seran wrap and place them immediately into the freezer.  Once they are frozen, remove, slice into individual squares, and then place back in the freezer (this makes quick treats easier!)


Recipe from The City of Nanaimo


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