For people who care about their food

Nanaimo bars

by David Stanley

[We’re delighted to welcome David as our latest guest blogger. David is a travel writer based in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Besides his work for print publications including the Lonely Planet series, he also runs several excellent travel websites, including]

Nanaimo bars - three-layered bars flavoured with chocolate, nuts and vanillaThe sinfully rich Nanaimo bar takes its name from the city of Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. This calorie-laden dessert was first mentioned in local cookbooks in the 1950s. Today the three-layer bars are kept next to the cookies and muffins in most British Columbia cafés.

To prepare the base layer, combine half a cup of unsalted butter or margarine, a quarter cup of granulated sugar, and five tablespoons of cocoa powder in a double boiler over the heat. Add a beaten egg, mix well, and pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in half a cup of chopped almonds or walnuts, one cup of grated coconut, and two cups of graham wafer crumbs. Press the soft mixture firmly into an ungreased eight-inch square pan and put the pan in the refrigerator to chill.



To make the filling, combine two tablespoons of vanilla custard powder, two tablespoons and two teaspoons of cream, half a cup of softened unsalted butter or margarine, and two cups of icing sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Spread this mixture evenly over the base layer and
place the pan back into the fridge to stand for half an hour.

For the topping, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter or margarine and four ounces of semi-sweet chocolate over low heat and stir until smooth. Allow the liquid to cool slightly and pour it over the filling. Place the pan back in the fridge to chill. Once the product has set, use a hot knife
to cut the slab into around 40 bars, which should be stored in the fridge.

This is only one Nanaimo bar recipe – there are many variations.

David Stanley

5 Responses to “Nanaimo bars”

  1. Chris

    So, for the UK, what’s a good replacement for Graham Cracker Crumbs – Digestive biscuits?

  2. Not Delia

    Hi Chris

    Sorry I don’t know the answer – it’s not my recipe, and I’ve never had a Graham cracker. However, I have put some feelers out to friends with experience of both USA/Canada and the UK to see if they can tell me. I’ll get back to you as soon as I get an answer.

  3. Claire

    So is this US or UK cup sizes? I love these bars but the top two layers are always squidgy, not like the bars I ate in Canada!


  4. Intouchable

    This is useful. I love these Nanaimo bars and this is a good recipe.

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