Canada: Nanaimo Bars

The Nanaimo, a Canadian bar cookie, receives its name from the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where it first became known in the 1930's. According to historical legend, a group of friends in Nanaimo found the recipe in the Vancouver Sun under the name "chocolate fridge cake", and then popularized it under the name "Nanaimo Bar". However, no one can find the recipe in the paper's archives, so its ultimate origin may never be known.

Nanaimo bars consists of a crumb-based layer, topped by a layer of light custard or vanilla butter icing, which is covered in soft chocolate. Many varieties are possible by using different types of crumb, flavors of custard or icing (e.g. mint, peanut butter), and types of chocolate. Two popular variations on the traditional Nanaimo bar involve mint flavored custard or mocha flavored custard.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1-1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer:

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

Cut into square and serve.

Recipe courtesy of the City of Nanaimo's Official Website.

1 comment:

Gillian Hardy said...


I was wondering if it would be alright for me to use this photo in a book of recipes whose proceeds are being donated to cancer research.

Please email me at

Thank you!
Gillian Hardy