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Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Can you believe that I grew up in BC, loved Bake Sales at school, but had never had a Nanaimo Bar until this past Friday? It’s true, sometimes I can be unnecessarily stubborn.

I decided to make these because it looks like everyone is in Olympic spirits and making Nanaimo Bars to celebrate, so I hopped on the band wagon and made some to take into work. I followed the recipe to a T for the first batch, found on – where else – Nanaimo.ca. I loved the hint of cocoa that came through the crust, but felt it could be a bit heavier, and also thought the middle layer could be a little less sweet and a little more complex. So with that, I set out to make my own version the next day.


for the base

  • 3.5 oz (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker or finely crushed cookie crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans (chopped)

for the filling

  • 4 tbsp butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese (room temperature)*
  • 3 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
  • 1/8 cup (2 tbsp) milk or cream
  • 2.5 cups icing sugar

*If you don’t have cream cheese, just replace with butter. I like the tartness the cream cheese adds to the icing.

for the topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp butter

Putting it all together

  1. Line an 8″ or 9″ square pan with parchment paper and set aside
  2. For the base, melt the butter in a heavy small pot, or over the double boiler in a heat-proof bowl. Once melted, using a wire whisk, whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and whisk again until smooth. Stir in coconuts, cookie crumbs, and pecans with a spatula. Press and pack the mixture into the bottom of the pan and put in fridge to cool.
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together for the filling. Add in the milk/cream and custard powder, beat until combined. Slowly, 1 cup at a time, beat in the icing sugar. Once it’s all mixed in together, whip on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Spread on top of the base, and set back into the fridge to set.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler, in the microwave, or over the stove carefully. Pour onto the filling and put back into fridge to set.
  5. About 30 minutes after putting the bars in the fridge, score the bars with a sharp knife, wiping clean after each cut, to ensure that it’ll be easy to cut once everything sets.
  6. Cut into bars and enjoy!

You can also add sprinkles to the bars for a festive look, say, around Valentine’s Day?

Nanaimo Bars

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • VancityAllie Thursday 25 February 2010, 17:16

    Oh man, those look SO good right now. Wish I could reach and grab one through my screen ala Willy Wonka. Soooo hungry right now.

    Looking forward to seeing you guys in Vancouver! :)

  • Gabrielle Sunday 28 February 2010, 06:49

    I really like your food photos^__^ very artsy!!!

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