NANAIMO BARS — A chocolate coconut crust is topped with a layer of rich vanilla custard then finished off with a smooth chocolate ganache in this favorite Canadian treat.
I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve been married to a Canadian for over 25 years and I’m just now sharing a recipe for Nanaimo Bars. Please forgive me.
I tried my first Nanaimo Bar when we moved to Victoria, British Columbia shortly after we were married. Nanaimo, the namesake for these unique and delicious treats, was about an hour north of us.
When we lived in Canada, you could walk into almost any supermarket bakery and just buy Nanaimo Bars. It’s one of the things I miss most about Canada. That and Tim Horton’s.
If you wanted to make Nanaimo Bars at home, you could also buy a mix in the baking aisle. But honestly, I don’t know anyone who did that. Everyone just bought them.
I couldn’t believe that such a wonderful delicacy existed out there and I had never, ever heard of it. Living in the U.S. for so long now, I’ve given up hope of ever finding a Nanaimo Bar at the grocery store though……
Luckily (and despite what some people will tell you) they really aren’t too hard to make. I mean, harder than buying them already made, yes. But really, not that hard.
For truly authentic Nanaimo Bar flavor, you will need a special ingredient–custard powder. I’ve never found it in a grocery store here, but it’s easy to order on Amazon.
Or, you can use instant vanilla pudding powder as a substitute. It works just as well, and only slightly changes the flavor of the finished product. And if you’ve never had a Nanaimo Bar, you’ll never know the difference.
The nuts in the crust are optional–sometimes I use them, but most often I don’t. The coconut, however, is not optional. It’s an important part of the Nanaimo Bar flavor. And of course the chocolate ganache topping is a must.
If you’ve never tried this classic Canadian recipe, don’t wait another day! You’re going to love them!
Be sure to save this Nanaimo Bars recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.
Here’s what you’ll need to make Nanaimo Bars
- Cocoa powder
- Graham cracker crumbs
- Custard powder (or instant vanilla pudding powder)
- Powdered sugar
- Baking chocolate
- Vegetable oil
For the crust
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
For the custard layer
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons custard powder (or instant vanilla pudding powder)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
For the topping
- 5 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate, chopped
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- In a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, granulated sugar and cocoa powder, stirring until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in graham cracker crumbs, coconut and nuts (if using). Press into the bottom of lightly greased 8-inch square pan.
- For the custard layer, beat 1/2 cup butter, cream and custard powder with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar. Spread over the crust. Refrigerate until set.
- Meanwhile, melt the baking chocolate and oil in the microwave at 50 percent power until smooth. Spread over the chilled bars. Allow chocolate to set before cutting into squares.
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