Nanaimo Bars

9 Pieces
40 min

We moved to British Columbia about a year ago and wanted to bake a popular Canadian desserts for Canada Day  . Being a BC resident, we had to try our hands at making this staple BC Dessert - Nanaimo Bars!

Originating from the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada, this is a three layered no-bake dessert bar . Traditionally the bottom layer is made of wafer with nuts and mixed in with shredded coconut, middle layer has custard icing and it is topped off with layer of chocolate ganache. We have made some changes to the typical recipe here, using a cookie crumb base mixed with shredded coconut. Middle layer is made with buttercream frosting with corn-flour and it has a top layer of melted chocolate.

Bit about Nanaimo BarsThe first appearance of Nanaimo Bar recipe was in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook in 1952. Back then it was labelled as ‘Chocolate Square’. In about a year after that, a similar recipe was published in Vancouver’s Edith Adams’ Cookbook, under the name ‘Nanaimo Bar’. Though these are the earliest known publications, Nanaimo Museum interpretation curator Aimee Greenaway figures that Nanaimo Bars have been around much longer.

Throughout the years, as with a lot of historical desserts, the names go through a lot of changes or alterations. At some point in time, it was called a New York slice, London fog bar, a chocolate square and even a prayer bar.

However, the city of Nanaimo has done a good job of pushing the name ‘Nanaimo Bar’ and making sure the name stuck in Canadian Food History. Today there are also a lot of variations of the traditional Nanaimo Bar across the city and region. Fun fact - if you ever go to Nanaimo for a visit, check out the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Its a self-guided tour through the city and region where you get to try out different variations of this famous dessert. A few noteworthy ones are the maple bacon and peanut butter crunch, organic options, Nanaimo bar spring roll, Nanaimo bar waffle, ice creams, cheesecakes or cupcakes with a Nanaimo Bar flare. You will even find cocktails or coffees with a Nanaimo bar touch.

Check out this easy video tutorial! Don't forget to like and subscribe to my channel if you like this recipe

Recipe details
  • 9  Pieces
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 10 Minutes Total time: 40 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info
Base Cookie Layer
  • 1/2 cup – Dark Chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup – Butter
  • 2 cup – Digestive biscuits
  • 1 cup – Unsweetened shredded coconut (or flakes)
  • 1 tsp – Vanilla extract
Middle "Custard" Layer
  • 4 cups – Powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup – Butter
  • 3- 5 tbsp – Milk
  • 4 tbsp – Corn flour
  • 1/8 tsp – Turmeric
Top Chocolate Layer
  • 1 cup – Dark Chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp – Melted butter
Base Cookie Layer
Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with aluminum foil.
Crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor or by putting them in a large sandwich bag and running over them with a rolling pin.
In a medium sized sauce pan, melt the chocolate chips & butter on low heat. Remove the pan off the heat when you have just few chocolate chips left to melt.
Add in the shredded coconut, vanilla extract and the digestive biscuit crumbs into the sauce pan and mix till everything is blended in.
Add the mix to the prepared 8″ x 8″ pan and press it down tightly with your hand.
Pop the pan in the refrigerator as you prepare the custard layer.
Middle “Custard” Layer
In a medium size bowl, add the butter (which was kept at room temp).
Add powdered sugar and mix gently.
Add corn flour and vanilla extract. Mix again.
Now start adding milk in splashes and keep mixing till you get the consistency seen in the video.
Take out the pan with the cookie base from the refrigerator now. Put the custard mix on the base and spread it around evenly.
Freeze it for 15 minutes.
Top Chocolate Layer
Add chocolate and butter into a small saucepan.
Melt it over medium heat, while making sure that the chocolate doesn’t burn.
Pour it over the custard layer and gently spread to form an even layer.
Let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight before slicing.
Sugar Spice N Everything Nice
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • Pam kidd Pam kidd on Mar 17, 2022

    what are digestive biscuits?

    • Carol Carol on Aug 07, 2022

      Digestive biscuits are a crunchy “cookie’ made from whole wheat, buttery and sweetened. They are English. We call cookies, biscuits. You may find them in the supermarket perhaps in the international sections. If not find a world import store and check the food section. You can also get them on Amazon. They are delicious on their own or with some Kerry gold butter with a cup of tea. This recipe can also be made with Nabisco Weetabix (personally believe that Nabisco put these out and is the original recipe. You could find it on the Nabisco website. Weetabix was carried by Trader Joe’s or an import store.