Nanaimo Bars

We thought we'd conclude our summer exploration of no-bake recipes with an ode to a true Vancouver Island favourite - Nanaimo Bars! A local favourite that puts a smile on everyone's face.

Many people choose to make Nanaimo Bars at Christmas time, but since they tend to be no-bake, we thought that they would also make a perfect summer treat as well! Heaven forbid if you had to make them twice!

While Nanaimo Bars look impressive on a dessert plate, they are actually surprisingly easy to make. They use common place ingredients and cooking methods that are fairly basic.

We kept things very traditional for our bars, with the only addition being some vanilla bean paste to the filling. We're a sucker for the little black specs of vanilla that this stuff brings, but you can also feel free to substitute pure vanilla extract. For more information on where you can find some of the ingredients check out the notes after the recipe!

Just look at that filling! It's gorgeous!

The base on these is super thick as well, which is just how we know everyone likes it.

Go make these. Your friends and family will thank you.

Nanaimo Bars

For the base:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/4 cup white sugar

5 Tbsp. Dutch process cocoa powder

1 egg, beaten

1 3/4 cup graham cracker cumbs

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

For the filling:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

3 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. custard powder*

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste** (or sub vanilla extract)

2 cups icing sugar

For the topping:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

2 tsp. salted butter


For the base:

1. In the top of a double boiler, combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg gradually, whisking constantly to make sure the egg doesn't scramble. Keep mixing for 2 to 3 minutes until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs and flaked coconut. Press the mixture into a parchment paper lined 8x8 inch pan.

For the filling:

2. Cream together the butter, heavy cream, and custard powder until light and fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla paste until smooth.  Spread evenly over the base. Place in the fridge to set for 1 hour.

For the topping:

3. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter until smooth. Spread over the chilled bars, moving fairly quickly as the chocolate will begin to set when it hits the cold filling. Let the bars chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to completely set.

4. To serve, lift the bars out of the pan and cut into bars. We prefer our bars on the larger size and got about 16 out of this recipe, but it's completely up to you! Enjoy!

*You can find vanilla bean paste online, but there are local retailers who also carry it such as Thrifty Foods and Bulk Barn.

** We used Bird's Custard Powder (a UK import) that can be found at Thrifty Foods and Walmart.

Inspired by this recipe.




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