Nanaimo Bars

By • January 15, 2012 1 Comments

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Author Notes: A quintessential B.C. treat, I have always found the custard powder used in the vanilla layer a bit too chalky for my liking. This recipe is inspired by the nanaimo bars sold at Starbucks and based on the "ultimate" recipe by Joyce Hardcastle that won a contest held by the city of Nanaimo. That said, I looked at several recipes and they were all very similar.

This is my ultimate recipe...not too sweet, lots of vanilla filling and a softer chocolate ganache topping. It is my pet peeve about nanaimo bars that if you eat them at room temperature the vanilla filling (and let's be honest, it's really icing) oozes out because the chocolate topping is much a firmer consistency. I want my last bite to have just as much icing as my first...yes, I am a bit neurotic.


Makes lots


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 10 tablespoons cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  1. Melt butter with sugar and cocoa powder; stir to combine.
  2. Over medium heat, add eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, pecans and coconut. Press into parchment lined 9x12" pan. Set aside until cool (or chill if you want these the same day).

Vanilla filling and chocolate topping

  • 1 cup salted butter (or use unsalted and add salt to taste)
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons 1 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate (your favourite kind)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. Cream 1 cup butter until light; beat in icing sugar, 5 Tbsp + 1 tsp heavy cream and vanilla (and salt if using).
  2. Spread vanilla filling over cooled base. Chill until very firm.
  3. For chocolate topping, melt together chocolate, 4 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp heavy cream. Stir until smooth. Add additional tablespoon cream if you want a softer topping. The topping will be firm when chilled but will be more ganache like at room temperature.
  4. Spread chocolate evenly over chilled vanilla layer. Chill until set.
  5. Cut into desired size bars with a warm dry knife. They are rich so often people err on the smaller size...not me. Best stored in a cool place or in the refrigerator. These freeze well or keep in the fridge for over a week in a sealed container.

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