Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Quintessentially Canadian

Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Nanaimo bars, with their chocolatey bottom full of coconut and nuts and sweet butter cream filling, are quintessentially Canadian. It is believed that the original recipe came from a woman from Cowichan Bay and was submitted to a cookbook. The bars, which need no baking, became very popular! Their sweet chocolatey flavor makes them one of my teen’s most favorite dessert recipes, and are fitting on a Canada Day celebration from kitchen which guessed it, the Strait of Georgia and in the distance, Nanaimo!


Base Layer:

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Middle Layer:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2-3 tbsp milk or cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vanilla custard powder (Birds Brand) or vanilla pudding powder
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar


4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment paper.


  In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter until smooth and then remove from the heat.  Stir in the sugar and cocoa until smooth, then gradually whisk in the egg.  Put the pot back on the element and continue to cook with the residual heat, stirring until thickened (about 1-2 minutes).  Stir in graham cracker crumbs, nuts, and coconut.  Press the mixture evenly into the pan and set into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.


  While the bottom layer chills, beat the butter for the middle layer until creamy. Add the rest of the middle layer ingredients, beating at first on low and then medium until creamy. Spread over the bottom layer and then put in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.


  Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Let cool slightly, then spread over the filling. Chill for about 10 minutes until set.

  The bars are a little hard to cut without cracking the chocolate. Let the pan sit on the counter for about 15 to 20 minutes first, then run the knife under hot water and wipe it dry before slicing through them.

Makes about 12 bars

Adapted from Joy of Baking

She may go by the name Scatteredmom online, but Karen really is anything but scattered when it comes to the kitchen.  Churning out tasty treats within view of the Georgia Strait on Canada's west coast, Karen will hand you an organized weekly meal plan or teach you how to make meals from scratch.  As Mom to a teenage boy, she knows exactly what it takes to keep kids full and happy-which has really come in handy with her job as the Food Editor at Yummy Mummy Club.

A strong supporter of Food Revolution who has been endorsed by Jamie Oliver himself, by day Karen can be found working as a special education teaching assistant, running a kitchen and showing teenagers how to cook nutritious meals for themselves.  By night, when she's not chatting on Twitter and answering cooking questions,  she writes her popular blog Notes From the Cookie Jar, or posting mouthwatering recipes over at Chasing Tomatoes.  Not afraid to give her opinion and passionate about community, Karen spoke at Blissdom Canada 2010 and her writing has been published in Canadian Living magazine, as well as in various online publications. 

Follow Karen on Twitter @scatteredmom