Nanaimo Bars

I may be the odd person out, but when I think of what Canadian culinary classics are, I think of Maple fudge, poutine and Nanaimo bars.  Some of you out there may think I am nuts, others might not even know what a Nanaimo bar is.  Well, it’s the picture in this article.  But do not fear, for I Kaity, will teach you the mighty way of the Nanaimo.

I think Nanaimo bars might be one of those fantastic recipes that no one really knows about.  Nanaimo bars originated in Nanaimo B.C, Canada but in recent years they have become more available Nation wide.  I still don’t know if they are available worldwide, but one can hope!

This is a no baking required recipe and only requires the use of a bain-marie, or bowl over pot of simmering water if you don’t have that very specific piece of equipment.

This recipe is divided into three parts; the bottom layer, the middle layer and top (ingenious naming system eh?)  As such, the recipe might seem long and overly complicated, but I swear to you that it is not the case.  Each layer is quiet simple, the only catch is that temperature is a key factor in this wonderful creation.

When adding the final layer, the chocolate coating, make sure that it is just below body temperature.  If it is too warm it will melt the middle icing layer, and you will get a puddly mess of chocolate and icing.  It will still taste fine, however if you wanted to show your grandma your mad culinary skills she may be slightly disappointed.

Anywho.. I hope you like this Canadian classic!


What you will need:

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Middle Layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp cream + 1 tbsp if needed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Top Layer

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp butter

What you need to do:

Bottom layer

Over bain-marie, combine butter, sugar and cocoa powder and stir until smooth.  Add egg and stir until mixture is thick*.

Remove from heat and mix in graham cracker crumbs and coconut.

Press into lined pan, set aside.

Middle layer

Cream together butter, cream, custard powder.

Stir in icing sugar, adding extra tbsp of cream if needed.

Spread over bottom layer and chill until completely firm.

Top Layer.

Melt roughly 2/3 cup of  chocolate chips over bain marie.  Be careful not to overheat the chocolate.  The pot of water should never be at a simmer only, not a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and remaining 1/3 cup of chocolate chips.

Chocolate mixture should be at around body temperature, slightly cool to the touch**.

Pour over middle layer and set aside to set at room temperature.

When set, trim edges and cut into evenly sized squares.


* If worried about raw egg, cook to 72 Celsius to kill any bacteria.

**Make sure chocolate is around 36 Celsius before pouring over middle layer.  If it is too hot set aside for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.


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