Nanaimo Bars

For those of us that have grown up with the Nanaimo Bar, it hardly seems possible that the rest of the world has had to go without this treat at Christmas time. I'm sure that Joyce had no clue that her famous bar would become such a favorite when she entered a contest in her hometown of Nanaimo. For the whole story you can click right here to read it. I have changed her recipe slightly and I've giving you my pictures that are not included in the recipe she provided.

I do recall learning to make these before I was a bride. I even made them for the day that I had my bridesmaids over to wrap the Wedding cake in foil and netting for our wedding favours. Sadly, that day I made a few errors that I am going to make sure you never make. So, pay attention to the little details and you too can serve the perfect little layer bar with your Christmas goodies.

First of all, you will want to use a 9X13 pan instead of the 8X8 pan. I like it nice and thin. You may like yours thicker, go for it. The other thing you will want to do is to line your pan with parchment paper or foil. If you don't do this you will not be able to lift it out to cut once it has been chilled.

The other thing you will need to do is to ensure fresh ingredients. Make absolutely sure your graham wafer crumbs are fresh. Taste them. Don't trust that because your package is sealed, they will be fine. Also make sure that your nuts whether you choose to use walnuts or almonds or pecans are also fresh. Taste them. The coconut I use is fine unsweetened. While you can use flaked or shredded, it cuts nicer if the bits are tiny.

So here we go .. . .

Bottom layer . . .
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter . . .this is important . .buy unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1 farm fresh egg slightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup of graham wafers
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of fine unsweetened coconut

Put the butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt it until it is nearly but not entirely melted.

If the butter is too hot it will instantly cook your egg in the next step.

Add the cocoa and sugar and stir until it is combined.

Add the slightly beaten egg.
Stir until well combined.
Put back in the microwave for about a half minute.
Your mixture should be a bit like a custard.
You may need to put it in for another half minute, stir and repeat until it has slightly thickened.
The egg should have now slightly cooked and thickened the mixture.

Add the nuts and coconut and stir until well combined.

Add the graham wafers last. Don't add all the crumbs at once. I have found that some makes of graham crumbs are more powdery and thereby can dry the mixture faster. I think you'll be okay with this amount of butter, but as I learned years ago, if the mixture is too dry, it will crumble and not cut nicely later on when it is chilled.

Your mixture will look like this . .nice and moist.

Spread the first layer into your prepared pan and chill for an hour.
Do not skip the chilling step.

Second layer . . .

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter . .softened
  • 2 tablespoons Birds Eye Custard Powder . .(non sweet custard powder meant to be cooked)
  • 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of icing sugar or (powdered sugar)

Cream the butter and add the custard powder and combine well.

I always use a wooden spoon in a glass bowl. Isn't it funny how we all like to use certain containers and spoons .. . (it's okay use your metal spoon in your glass bowl . .I can't see)

Add the Icing sugar next and stir slowly to combine. . .

Add the cream a drizzle at a time to make a nice smooth icing.

Beat it well with your wooden spoon until it is light.

Take your chilled crumb base out of the fridge and plop your icing on top.

If your some reason your icing does not look like this consistency either add a little more cream or a little more icing sugar.

With your off set spatula . .(what no off set spatula . .put it on your Christmas list .. go ahead . . . .I'll wait)

Spread it out nice and smooth or as smooth as you can.

Put it back in the fridge for an hour . .

Third Layer
  • 6 squares of semi sweet chocolate . .I just use bakers, but you could use a really good quality if you preferred. I find that the secret is real butter.
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Put this in the microwave for half a minute.

Stir the chocolate at a half minute intervals until it is perfectly smooth.

You of course could do this in a double boiler.

Just make sure that no droplets of water or steam get into the chocolate or it will seize and you'll have a mess.

Take your chilled bar out of the fridge and put your chocolate on again using your offset spatula. Put it in the fridge to chill for one hour.
This is important.

The bar needs to chill until the chocolate has set but not so so chilled until the chocolate is hard. If this happens you will crack your bar when you slice it.

If it seems too hard let it sit for a bit and try again.

This is why you needed to line your pan . .

put it on a cutting board and use a thin knife to cut it.

I do hope you enjoy this Western Canadian treat. We sure have. Thank you Joyce for doing your hometown proud.

The square keeps really well if it is well wrapped in your refrigerator . You may have to hide it.

Have a great day my friends. I'm off to do my Saturday cleaning.


  1. Gorgeous tutorial Lovella. You really made sure the steps were well though out and necessary cautions added.
    I could hear my home ec. teacher whispering in my ear: Read the recipe from start to finish BEFORE you begin!

    Yes...she is right. Lots of steps, but oh so good.

    I think I'd go for a faster preparation version: Call Lovella, go visit quickly before her menfolk get a shot at this stuff!

  2. This is my absolute favorite Christmas treat & it is so nice of you to share all the little hints & secrets that we have had to learn by trial & error! My mouth is watering right now... wishing you lived next door!!

  3. Nanaimo bars! my favorite..I wonder if I could come up with a gluten free variation.. I is just the base that I would have to change. Hmmm... thinking cap, get your batteries charged!!!!

    What a great demonstration, Lovella !!!

  4. I had never heard of Nanaimo Bars till we moved here, and then I wondered WHY I had never heard of them! They are delicious! I just can't eat them is all! ;)

  5. They look amazing! I can't wait to try your recipe. I haven't made nanaimo bars in about seven or eight years! Now that I have your helpful hints, they may actually be presentable this time around!
    Keri nice to meet you in person yesterday! You are just as sweet in person!

  6. Oh, they look so good! I may have to add them to the Christmas baking list - how do you manage to stay out of them and keep them for company? My mom used to make a version with a white layer. Do you think maybe it was without the Bird's Eye? Maybe I'll need to do some digging around in dad's basement again, hmmm ... what do you think the chances are that they were saved?

  7. I'm likely the only one out there who doesn't care for chocolate...but you made the nanaimo bars look so yummy, I think I just might have to make them! Did you know that Nanimo Bars are a Canadian thing? Apparently someone from Nanaimo, B.C. once entered a recipe contest and won with her recipe for no-bake bars...they became popular as Nanaimo bars. Our claim to fame...I don't think her's could have looked as yummy as yours though!

  8. Judy, what a hoot, go back and read my first paragraph and click on the link. We'll give you a break since you just got back from your holiday. LOL

    Nancy, maybe she didn't add the Bird's eye. Really without that it is just a butter icing. It sure wouldn't hurt to try it like that. YOu'd know pretty quick.

    Keri, I was sure happy to meet you too.

  9. Hmmmm...I guess I heard it right here! My brain is still in vacation mode...what can I say?

  10. Yum! I think this is the year I will try to make them. Thanks for the lesson. I'll let you know how they turn out!

  11. Once again you have caused me to drool on my keyboard and short out my spacebar and shift keys.
    Thank you for your kind comments regarding my blog. I have peaked in on yours a few times and you are not a bad photographer either. As for the age thing, you are not even close but it did make feel good for a moment.
    Rachel's Dad

  12. Yum yum yum!! Thank you so much for this recipe. I'm always cooking or baking something. It pretty much defines my life. So I love getting new recipes. And I love meeting new friends. I'm adding you to my blog roll if you don't mind. I have to come back here often!


  13. Oh Lovella, thank-you so much for the 'surprising' love. And I see you are still creating beautifully 'sweet' conTRAPtions-good on you!

  14. you are right......this is a great canadian christmas tradition...............just yesterday we were talking about this with friends and all of us agreed it was easier to buy it than make it because the chicolate always cracked.......well now i feel confidant that i could make this again.........and then brag about it to my friends...tee hee

  15. I have never heard of these bars before until I read this post. Anything chocolate is great in our household!

  16. We have a family friend from Canada and this past Christmas she was visiting and made several pans of these while here. A-Maz-Zing! Is all I have to say, and now I have the recipe. I don't have to wait for Christmas do I? I hope not cuz I'm not going to. :)


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