Nanaimo Bars – An Easy Treat

5/5 - (1 vote)

I have long wanted to try Nanaimo Bars. I heard about them when I was in Canada. These bars originate from the city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. I found out that the base for the bars uses crushed Graham crackers. However those crackers are not available in the UK, unless you buy them online, for exorbitant prices.

So, as you may know, I recently made my own Graham crackers, with the specific intent of making these bars. However I do want to stress that the same weight of crushed digestive biscuits will work just as well.

So, let’s talk about the bars. They have, as I mentioned, the crushed crackers in the base, but added to that is butter, cocoa powder, shredded coconut and finely chopped almonds. Then there is a layer of buttercream, flavoured with custard powder. The top layer is of chocolate. Semisweet seems to be the favoured type.

There is no baking required for the bars. However you have to heat the base mixture, cooking the included egg in the process. But that takes very little time. In fact little effort is required to make the bars. However there is waiting time, since the buttercream layer needs to firm up before the chocolate goes on top. Then that top layer needs to set as well.

I would also recommend keeping the bars in an airtight container, in the fridge. That is simply because the buttercream layer will soften at room temperature. I guess adding more icing sugar might keep that firmer but, for me, that would be too sweet.

For my bars I used a recipe I found on The City Of Nanaimo site. But I did convert the weights and measures to metric, for my own convenience.

My Bars

As I mentioned the bars were very easy to make.

Although the original recipe implies using an un-greased pan I decided to line mine with parchment paper to make it easy to remove the bars for cutting and serving.

Once I had assembled them it was just a matter of waiting until they chilled. One tip seems to be to cut them into bars, or at least score the top layer, before the chocolate has set firm. That is simply to prevent cracking once set.

My bars tasted so good with all the flavours of the base coming through to mix with the buttercream and the chocolate.

Dividing my bars into 16 portions made them the perfect size for a single serving.

Nanaimo Bars – Video

Another easy bars recipe is Raisin Flapjacks – Raisin Oat Bars.

Nanaimo Bars – An Easy Treat

Recipe by City Of Nanaimo Website(adapted)Course: Biscuits, Cookies, DessertsCuisine: CanadianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Total time including chilling time




  • Base
  • 210g(1 3/4 cups) Graham cracker crumbs(or crushed digestive biscuits)

  • 113g(1/2 cup) unsalted butter

  • 50g(1/4 cup) caster sugar

  • 32g(5 tbsp) cocoa powder

  • 80g(1 cup) shredded coconut(or desiccated)

  • 70g(1/2 cup)finely chopped almonds

  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)

  • Buttercream Layer
  • 113g(1/2 cup)softened unsalted butter

  • 40m(2 tbsp+ 2 tsp) double cream/heavy cream

  • 18g(2 tbsp) custard powder

  • 220g(2 cups) icing sugar

  • Chocolate Layer
  • 113g(4 oz) semi sweet chocolate(about 51%)

  • 28g(2 tbsp) butter


  • Place a large bowl onto a pan of gently simmering water.
  • Place butter, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl and stir to combine as everything slowly melts together.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Return to the heat and slowly add the egg, whisking all the time to ensure it doesn’t scramble, until combined and cooked through.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and add the Graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds and mix thoroughly.
  • Tip the mixture into a parchment lined 8 inch/20cm square cake pan.
  • Spread the mixture evenly over the base and press down firmly to level and compact the layer.
  • Place the pan in the fridge while making the buttercream.
  • Cream the butter, cream and custard powder together and then slowly add the icing sugar until you have a thick and smooth buttercream.
  • Spoon that mixture onto the base and spread to level all over.
  • Chill the buttercream in the fridge until set firm.
  • Place a bowl over a pan of gentle simmering water.
  • Add the chocolate and butter and heat, stirring, until they are fully combined into a silky smooth consistency.
  • Pour the chocolate over the buttercream layer and shake, or spread, to make a level layer.
  • Chill in the fridge until the chocolate is almost set, remove from the pan and divide into 16 bars then chill until the chocolate it set completely hard.
  • Store the bars in an airtight container, in the fridge.

1 Comment

  1. Wow … you even made your own Graham crackers…. my hero! .. can’t believe you can’t get them easily there. It is sort of a ‘go-to’ packaged biscuit around here. Those and Arrowroot and Digestive are the 3 that Mom used to buy when we were kids and they’re still around.
    I love Nanaimo Bars…and, yes they do freeze Geoff…..ahhahha… that is ..if you quickly get some into the freezer before they’re all gone!!

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