Nanaimo Bars are traditional no-bake desserts with three layers: a graham cracker crumb base mixed with shredded coconut, a custard-flavoured butter icing in the center and a chocolate ganache on top.

They were named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where they were first popularized in the 1950s. They gained more recognition after Expo 86. In 2006, Nanaimo bars were named Canada’s favourite candy in a National Post poll.

In 1986, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts, in conjunction with Harbor Park Mall, launched a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo bar recipe. Over the course of the four-week contest, nearly 100 different variations of the famous confection were submitted. Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe was the winner.

Level of difficulty : easy
Prep time : 45 mins
Rest time : 2 hours
Cook time :
Total time : 2 hours 45 mins
Yield : 6 servings
Bottom layer:
1/2 cup sweet butter (110 g)
1/4 cup of sugar (60 g)
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 beaten egg
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (110 g)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (80 g)
1 cup coconut (170 g)
Second layer:
1/2 cup sweet butter (110 g)
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar (280 g)
Third layer:
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (110 g)
2 tablespoons sweet butter

Bottom layer:

  • Line a 9 inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a bowl set in a double boiler, melt butter with cocoa powder and sugar, stirring until smooth.
  • Slowly add beaten egg and vanilla extract, whisking until mixture thickens.
  • Continue whisking until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds.
  • Press the mixture into the baking dish.
  • Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Second layer:

  • In a bowl, cream the butter until light.
  • Add custard powder, heavy cream and powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
  • Using a spatula, spread an even layer of cream on the chilled base.
  • Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Third layer:

  • In a bowl set in a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth and shiny.
  • Let cool slightly.
  • Using a spatula, quickly spread the chocolate over the cream layer.
  • Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  • Score bars by slicing thinly into the top layer of chocolate.
  • Return to the refrigerator for another 20 to 30 min.
  • Peel off parchment paper and cut along the marks with a sharp knife.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Let stand at room temperature for 30 min before serving.
  • Enjoy!

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