Nanaimo bars

Most days during our lunch hour, we play the trivia quiz that's in the local newspaper. A week or so ago the question was asked, 'what's the top layer of a Nanaimo bar'. Having spent some time working in Canada I was the only one who knew the answer. When asked what they tasted like, I couldn't answer because I'd never made or tasted one. I was told that it was time to put this to right and to make some Nanaimo bars to bring in to work, so I did. 

Nanaimo bars are pretty easy to make so I whipped up a batch last week in between my Christmas baking. The base is made from graham crackers which you can't find easily in Australia and I wasn't in the mood to make them from scratch. I looked online and found a suggestion that Arnott's Granita biscuits were a good substitute so I added them to my shopping list. Everything else I had in my baking cupboard, which is full to bursting at the moment.

All baked, filled and iced.

Sliced into squares, ready to eat with a nice strong cup of tea. Here's the recipe for you, adapted slightly from this Canadian Living recipe.

Nanaimo Bars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup shredded coconut
cup finely chopped walnut pieces
¼ cup dutch process cocoa
¼ cup caster sugar
cup butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup butter
2 15 ml tbsp custard powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar
2 – 3, 15 ml tbsp cream

125 g dark chocolate, chopped
1, 15 ml tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.  Line an 8-inch square cake tin with baking paper.

In a bowl, mix together the graham crumbs, coconut, walnuts, cocoa and sugar. Drizzle with butter and egg; stir until combined. Press the crumb mixture into the lined cake tin. Bake at 350°F/180°C until the base is firm, about 10 - 15 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. 

In a bowl, beat together the butter, custard powder and vanilla. Beat in the icing sugar alternately with the cream until smooth, adding a little more cream if too thick to spread. Spread over cooled base; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

In a heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate with butter. Spread over filling; refrigerate until almost set, about 30 minutes. With the tip of a knife, score into bars; refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 1 hour before cutting into bars. Store the bars in an airtight container.

I liked them but how did my test audience like them? They really liked the base but found the filling a bit too sweet. I do plan to use the base recipe again either to make another slice with a caramel filling or just topped with the chocolate topping. 

Now next week is Christmas week on the blog. I've been cooking like mad and most of the goodies have now been made; some are still to be photographed and none of the recipes have been written up for the blog. It's going to be a busy week for me.

The end of the year is in sight -  just 8 more working days for me for 2013.

See you all next week,




  1. Anonymous3:16 am

    Canadian Living is where I love to get recipes.... and the Nanaimo bar is actually named after a town in Canada... but I'm sure you already knew that!

    1. I have a few other Canadian Living recipes for cakes and cookies in my collection. They've always turned out unlike other recipes I've tried that just don't work for me.

      I've been to B.C quite a few times but I've never made it to Nanaimo. Maybe next time I visit Canada...



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