Nanaimo Bars

September 16, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Makes a 9 x 9-inch pan
Author Notes

These Canadian treats are named after a town on Vancouver Island. Since Canada is my home and native land, I've been eating and making them for as long as I can remember. This is my favourite version, a modification of a recipe from Time-Honoured Recipes of the Canadian West. —Stephanie Bourgeois

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons custard powder
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  1. Place the 1/2 cup butter, sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Set bowl in pan of hot water. Stir until butter is melted. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix in graham cracker crumbs and coconut. Pack into ungreased 9x9 pan. (If you are worried about the raw egg you can bake in a hot oven for a few minutes.)
  2. Combine the 5 tablespoons of butter, milk, custard powder and icing sugar. Mix until smooth spread over first mixture in pan. Chill until firm.
  3. Melt semisweet and unsweetened chocolate with the one tablespoon of butter and spread evenly over top. Chill until firm. Cut into bars to serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilyC
  • cratecooking
  • midnitechef
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • bistro_gal

18 Reviews

EmilyC December 10, 2014
These look great! Can you tell me what custard powder is? Is there a substitute?
EmilyC December 10, 2014
Sorry, I should really read the other comments first since you've already answered this question! : )
Liana B. December 6, 2014
Hi in the filling there is only 3 tablespoons of milk - is this an error??
Stephanie B. December 6, 2014
No. You don't need much milk. You want the filling to be stiff enough to hold its shape when cut.
cratecooking November 27, 2012
guess what Tim, Kate and I are eating RIGHT NOW!
Stephanie B. November 27, 2012
Hooray! I knew I was doing the right thing leaving them there. I already gave Tim the recipe.
midnitechef April 8, 2011
My grandma use to make green ones, maybe they were mint in the middle. I could never eat them due to allergies to the nuts she would add. Maybe I'll have to experiment!
Kristen M. November 10, 2010
Wish I had a tinful of these right about now...
Stephanie B. November 11, 2010
And that's from someone whose had them!

I wish I had a tinful too. Perhaps my cookie cutters need to find another home for a little while. ;)
bistro_gal September 16, 2010
Biffbourgeouis, I believe you forgot to list the walnuts in the ingredients. It would be great if you amended the recipe; I would like to make these beauties this weekend. Thanks!
Stephanie B. September 16, 2010
Actually, I prefer without walnuts and don't include them. If you prefer with walnuts, you can include 1/2 cup or so of chopped walnuts when you add the coconut and graham cracker crumbs.
bistro_gal September 16, 2010
Sounds good and thanks for the response. You listed walnuts in step one, that's why I asked. They really are scrumptious!
Stephanie B. September 16, 2010
Sorry, bistro_gal. It's fixed now.
SallyCan September 16, 2010
This looks outrageously delicious! Is there a good substitution for custard powder?
bistro_gal September 16, 2010
Sally, you can find custard powder on

These do look amazing; I wish I could have one right now!!
Stephanie B. September 16, 2010
You can just substitute a few tablespoons of vanilla pudding powder or even vanilla extract to taste. The bars' middle layer won't be yellow, but it will taste similar.
Midge April 28, 2011
You've probably procured some by now, but I've seen custard powder in the "international" section of big supermarkets. biffbourgeois, I am dying to make these!
thirschfeld September 16, 2010
Can I eat the picture to hold me over till I get to make some of these