Nanaimo Bars

nanaimo bar

A few years ago, A talked about Nanaimo bars and how we should make them. The thing is, we got on with our lives and totally forgot. I wanted to make him a treat and so looked up a recipe. At first glance, the ingredients list made me a little sick. These bars contain no nutritional value, and to buy the ingredients was really hard for me. Vanilla pudding? You’ve got to be kidding me! There was no way in hell I was buying that #$!* stuff, so I made vanilla buttercream.

The resulting Nanaimo bars were a hit. The combination of the layers made the perfect snack. Each layer contributes its own flavor and texture, creating a rather naughty, but delicious treat. We kept them in the refrigerator until A was ready to eat them. They also freeze well.

As a side note, the recipe below gives instructions of heating on the hob/stove, but the heating/melting steps can be completed in a microwave on low power. If you choose this method of heating/melting, be careful not to scorch the chocolate. That would be a waste chocolate, and it would make me cry.


makes one 23 cm (9 inch) square pan, ~25 squares

adapted from joy of baking: nanaimo bars


for the bottom layer

  • 115 g (1/2 c or 1 stick) salted butter
  • 50 g (1/4 c) raw cane (turbinado) sugar
  • 30 g (1/3 c) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 g (2 c) digestive (graham cracker) crumbs
  • 80 g (1 c) unsweetened desiccated (shredded) coconut
  • 50 g (1/2 c) walnuts, roughly chopped

for the middle layer

  • 55 g (1/4 c) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 240 g (2 c) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk, or as needed (optional)

for the top layer

  • 120 g (4.2 oz) ~65 % dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 15 g (1 tablespoon) salted butter


1. Line one 23 cm (9 inch) square pan with parchment.

2. To make the bottom layer: gently heat the butter, sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan. Once the butter is melted, stir.

3. Slowly add beaten egg stirring continuously until well combined. Gently heat, stirring until thick.

4. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Cool slightly before adding the vanilla, digestive (graham cracker) crumbs, coconut and walnuts.

5. Using your hands, mix together until everything is well combined. Press mixture firmly and evenly into a 23 cm (9 inch) square pan. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

6. To make the middle layer: beat butter until soft and fluffy. Add vanilla and half of the sugar. Beat again until the sugar is incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and beat again until well incorporated. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add 1 tablespoon of milk. Try not to add too much, otherwise you’ll end up with a gooey mess. Err on the thicker side.

7. Spread middle layer over the bottom layer and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

8. To make the top layer: melt together the chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Pour over the middle layer and chill for 10-15 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

9. Using a sharp knife, cut into 25 squares. Enjoy!


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