Nanaimo Bars

September 2, 2018

With this being my very first experience, both making and eating Nanaimo Bars, I’m here to tell you not only are they so simple to make but they taste unbelievably delicious!

I love how there is so much going on in these layered bars, but it all so perfectly blends together. One candy bar came to mind when I first tasted these bars, Almond Joy bars. I’m sure it is due to the chocolate, coconut and nut combo.

Nanaimo Bars

What is a Nanaimo Bar?

Some of you are likely asking; what are Nanaimo Bars? They are a popular Canadian confection, basically a bar cookie,  that to me tastes very similar to a richly chocolaty, loaded fudge. They are named after the west coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

They consist of 3 layers, a cracker crumb and chocolate base, a custard flavored icing and then they’re finished with a chocolate coating.

Nanaimo Bars

How do You Make Nanaimo Bars?

The instructions may appear to be long and tedious but these tasty treats are surprisingly super simple to make. They are a no bake bar after all. You’ll make three separate layers and chill briefly between each so the layers don’t blend.

Then use a clean sharp knife to cut into bars – cut across instead of downward for cleaner cuts.

I’m glad I finally got around to making these delicious dessert bars. Now that I’ve tasted them I can’t understand why I waited this long.

I guess I just didn’t understand there was so much more than just the stunning look of these famous bars. Their intricate taste is equal to their gorgeous, layered, multicolored look. Enjoy!

Nanaimo Bars

5 from 5 votes

A no bake bar made with three layers of pure decadence! You get a chocolatey, graham cracker-coconut base, a sweet cream filling, and they're finished with a layer of rich semi-sweet chocolate.

Servings: 16
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Bottom Layer:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter , diced into pieces
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or almonds (I used pecan cookie pieces)

Filling

  • 1/3 cup salted butter , softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp custard powder or vanilla/white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate , chopped
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, add in brown sugar and cocoa powder and whisk until well combine. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in beaten egg. Return mixture to heat and cook for 1 - 2 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and pecans and toss until evenly coated. Press mixture into a buttered 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, place in freezer for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, using and electric hand mixer set on medium speed, whip together butter, heavy cream and custard powder until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute (mixture may seem dry at first but should start to come together). Spread mixture into an even layer over chilled graham cracker base. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Melt semi-sweet chocolate along with butter in a heat proof bowl, set over a pot of simmering water. Spread mixture into an even layer over filling layer, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares, store in an airtight container.
  4. Recipe Source: adapted lightly from Joy of Baking
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Nanaimo Bars
Author: Jaclyn

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95 Comments

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      The egg is cooked but if the temp doesn’t reach past 160 then it’s not recommended to serve to elderly or children.

  • Elaine Wiley

    The best Flapper Pie I’ve ever had is at Teddy’s on Jasper Avenue and 114 St in Edmonton. The lady that makes the pies is about 90 and she’s been there for 40+ years.

  • Heidi

    I just made this for a Canada Day celebration. I was asked to make it but have never had this before (I don’t even know how to pronounce the name), so I really don’t know how authentic it is.
    My alterations:
    – For the filling I only used 1 cup of powdered sugar due to the recommendations of other reviewers. It was still very sweet (and I have a sweet tooth!). I could definitely taste the white chocolate instant pudding mix (I used one by Godiva), and decided to add an extra 1/4 cup of cream to try to dilute some of the sweetness.
    – For the top layer, I had problems with the soft chocolate melting the middle layer! I am not used to double boiling chocolate and I think the trick is to melt the chocolate to the point of being runny, and pour it over your FROZEN dish. I was able to save my final product by melting an additional 2oz chocolate + 1Tbs butter and filling in the holes. It might not look the prettiest but the layers are all there and wow, what a dessert!

  • Bob

    I made these and they came out fantastic. I’ve never had an actual one from British Columbia, so I can’t speak to whether these are comparable. I do understand about people’s comments about being too sweet. They are very sweet and rich. More sweet than just a cookie bar or piece of cake. These are sweet like fudge, so a little piece goes a long way. I think they would be better if you could cut the sweetness by about 20%. Dang, guess I’ll just have to experiment some more…

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      One thing you could do is use unsweetened coconut then try reducing the powdered sugar a bit.

  • RytaW

    I have never submitted a comment after making a recipe, and I have made tons of recipes. However, this was way too sweet. Had to throw the whole thing out. Just cut all sugar by 50% and it may be okay

  • Amy

    My husband is allergic to almonds, pecans and walnuts. Is there another nut you’d recommend in base layer? Macadamia, peanut, cashews, pistachios are my options.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’d probably go for the cashews or peanuts in these. Hope you both enjoy the recipe!

    • Tracy

      Someone from my office was passing a recipe around and it was made using hazelnut.