My mother-in-law’s recipe for Nanaimo Bars. Easy to pull together and delicious. A Christmas favourite!

Ingredients for Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars Base –
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) white sugar
5 Tbsp (75 ml) cocoa
1 egg
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
1 3/4 cups (425 ml) graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut
1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped walnuts

Nanaimo Bars Centre –
1/3 cup (90 ml) butter
3 tbsp (30 ml) Bird’s custard powder
1/3 cup (90 ml) milk (or cream)
3 cups (750 ml) icing sugar

Nanaimo Bars Topping –

6 ounces of semi-sweetened chocolate
2 tbsp (60 ml) butter, room temperature

Preparing Nanaimo Bars

  1. Prepare base  by melting butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the white sugar and cocoa, whisk in the egg and then add the vanilla. Mix well.
  2. Remove from heat and add in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Mix well. (I like to use my hands to scrunch everything together, to make sure everything is well worked in. I find the base is more resistant to crumbling when I do this.)
  3. Spread mixture into an ungreased* 9” by 13” (23 cm by 23 cm) pan and set aside to cool.
  4. Prepare centre by melting butter and mixing in the icing sugar and custard powder, then the milk, and beating it all together.
  5. Spoon custard mixture over cooled base evenly and refrigerate until it sets.
  6. For the top layer, melt the chocolate on it’s own (very important) in the microwave or a double boiler. If using the microwave, melt at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted (chocolate burns easily). If using a double boiler, stir chocolate frequently until melted.
  7. Once the chocolate is fully melted, add the butter to the chocolate. The heat from the chocolate will melt the butter and the butter will make the chocolate more liquid-like and easier to spread over the custard.
  8. Drizzle the chocolate evenly over top of the custard mixture, so the whole top has a light chocolate covering. Tilt the nanaimo bar pan as needed to help the chocolate mixture flow over the  top of the bars.
  9. Refrigerate until firm.

This desserts freezes well. If you do a lot of entertaining, make two and freeze them for special company or other entertaining.

Helpful tip from Florence: If you have parchment paper, line the pan with it as this will make it easier to pull the bars out in one piece for cutting. If you’ve used a non-stick pan, this saves knife marks/damage to your pan. Using parchment and removing the Nanaimo Bars right away also frees your pan up to be used again for something else.

To store in the freezer, wrap Nanaimo Bars in plastic wrap or tinfoil for the freezer.