Nanaimo Bars

Contributed By: Terry Borden


Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, diced into pieces
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
5 Tbsp (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup (180g) graham cracker crumbs* (about 12 sheets)
1/2 cup (76g) almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (83g) sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
2 - 3 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp custard powder, or 1/4 cup instant dry milk powder and 1 tsp vanilla extract**
2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
Top Layer
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp (28g) unsalted butter


Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Line with parchment paper and butter parchment, set aside.
For the first layer: Melt butter in large heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water set over medium-low heat.
Remove from heat, add in sugar, cocoa powder and salt and whisk until well combined. While whisking vigorously, very slowly pour in beaten egg in a thin stream.
Return mixture to heat and cook until mixture has just thickened.
Remove from heat and add in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds and toss until evenly coated.
Press mixture into prepared baking dish. Chill while preparing the filling, bottom layer shouldn't be warm when adding the custard frosting layer.
For the second layer: If you are using the custard powder option then simply add powdered sugar, butter, custard powder and 2 Tbsp heavy cream to mixer fit with paddle attachment. Whip until very pale and fluffy while adding another 1 Tbsp cream to thin if needed.
If you are using the powdered milk option, add 1/4 cup powdered milk and 3 Tbsp heavy cream to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk vigorously to dissolve powdered milk. Add in butter, powdered sugar and vanilla, set mixer with paddle attachment and beat mixture until very light and fluffy.
Spread mixture into an even layer over bottom layer. Chill preferably in the freezer while melting chocolate (otherwise the warm chocolate can melt this layer).
For the third layer: Melt semi-sweet chocolate along with butter in a heat proof bowl, set over a pot of simmering water until smooth (or in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals stirring between each, until melted and smooth).
Spread mixture into an even layer over filling layer. Chill until chocolate has set.
Cut into squares (tip for best appearance, cut squares from side to side rather than cutting downward). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before serving.

Helpful Hints:

Servings: 9
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Recipe Notes
*1. To chop ingredients I recommend using the food processor:
Break graham cracker sheets in half, add to the food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl. To crush by hand place graham crackers in a gallon size resealable bag and crush using a rolling pin.
Add the almonds and pulse in short bursts until chopped very small, transfer to bowl with the graham crackers. Almonds can also be chopped fine by hand.
I even like to also chop up the coconut until it's about half the original size in the food processor, though this is optional.
**2. There are several ways to flavor the custard flavor frosting layer but my personal favorite (as well as everyone else that taste tested) loved the dry milk option best (surprisingly). Another alternative is to use 2 Tbsp instant pudding mix (vanilla or white chocolate), then reduce powdered sugar by 2 Tbsp. Or just go with 2 tsp vanilla extract. The most authentic option is to use custard powder if you are looking for traditional flavor.

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