Posted by: njbrown | March 4, 2013

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars are among the truly Canadian inventions (although apparently something very similar was made in New York).  The history varies from source to source, but the recipe dates back to the 1950s and a community cookbook compiled in the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  The bars have a crumb/nut/coconut base, a butter cream/custard layer, and a top layer of chocolate.  Most recipes do not involve baking, but the one below does.  Also, this recipe uses chocolate rather than the traditional cocoa.  In the past, I’ve found Nanaimo Bars almost too sweet to eat, so I searched for a recipe that was less sugary.  If you use Bird’s Custard Powder (available in groceries in U.K. and Canada; from Amazon if you can’t find it in U. S. groceries), the filling is not off the sweetness chart.  Vanilla instant pudding mix can be used instead, but it makes the bars extremely sweet – too sweet for many.  One small Nanaimo Bar satisfies most people.

This recipe is easily “veganized,” using Earth Balance instead of butter, almond (or soy)milk, and egg replacer for the one egg.


  • 6 oz. Callebaut 70% bitter sweet morsels, divided
  • ¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Butter (or Earth Balance), softened, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla, divided
  • 2 cups graham crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp. Bird’s Custard Powder
  • 3 Tbsp. milk (or almond milk)
  • 2 cups icing sugar


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Microwave 2 oz. chocolate and ½ cup butter in large microwaveable bowl on medium 2 min. or until butter is melted.
  3. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  4. Blend in egg and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  5. Stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts.
  6. Press onto bottom of 9-inch square pan.
  7. Bake 8 min.; cool completely.
  8. Mix custard powder and milk in medium bowl with whisk until blended.
  9. Add ¼ cup of the remaining butter and ½ tsp. vanilla; mix well.
  10. Gradually beat in sugar until blended.
  11. Spread onto crust.
  12. Refrigerate 15 min.
  13. Microwave remaining chocolate and butter in microwaveable bowl 2 to 3 min. or until butter is melted.
  14. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  15. Spread over custard layer.
  16. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled before cutting into bars.

Note: For easy removal from the pan and cutting, line pan with aluminum foil with a generous overlap at both sides to make handles.

Adapted from: Kraft Foods Nanaimo Bars


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