Recipe: Nanaimo Bars — The Canadian Treat

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Sarah Rae Smith)

A few weeks ago we ran across a recipe for Nanaimo Bars. Our first thought was, how on earth do you pronounce that and where can we get some now! The pictures of these snacks were all we could think about for days and not ever having been to Canada (unless Niagara Fall counts), we were unfamiliar with what we now know to be quite the indulgent treat.

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Apparently Nanaimo bars are quite the thing in Canada. So much in fact that most take them for granted or wouldn’t know of their non-existence outside of their northern country. The ingredients in this recipe are all pretty basic and you’ll probably have most of them in your pantry, except one. Custard Powder. Bird’s Custard Powder makes tasty custardy like pudding that’s used outside of the US. It’s not something you find on your local supermarket shelves, so if you wish, you may substitute vanilla pudding powder. We went all out and found our Bird’s Custard Powder at World Market for just under $4. It’s the main flavoring (outside butter) in the middle layer, so we wanted to make sure it was spot on for our first try.

The results were more than decadent and this recipe can be adapted in all sorts of ways. The creamy middle layer allows for extra things like cinnamon, peppermint or orange to be added to give an extra kick to these already perfect sweets.

Nanaimo Bar Recipe
Yields: 40-64 bars
Adapted from: City of Nanaimo via Eclectic Cook

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cups finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken (Roughly 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 Tsp. cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Cut into 1 inch squares (trust us, their quite rich) and serve slightly chilled and with a tall glass of milk!


Related: Cranberry and Chocolate: Decadent Thanksgiving Desserts