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Nov 9, 2009 02:42 PM

foolproof Nanaimo Bar recipe?

So I have a canadian expat coming to dinner next week - and I heard that she's been craving nanaimo bars. I thought I'd be a good friend and surprise her with a homemade batch. Anyone have a good recipe they know will knock it out of the park?

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    1. re: HillJ

      I can tell just by reading it that this recipe is full of win. The only tiny tweak I would suggest is maybe the addition of half a teaspoon of espresso powder in the base.

      1. re: HillJ

        Thanks HILLJ - this recipe looks great and the picture of the nanaimo bar is inspiring. I assume you've made this before, so I have to ask this question: recipe calls for shredded coconut. Should I assume that its unsweetened coconut, or sweetened? Thanks!

        1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

          I've had them with both, and think unsweetened makes a slightly less cloying product. Not so much that you simply must find unsweetened coconut -- nanaimo bars just are super-sweet, there's no getting around that -- but it's a nice thing if you have it.

          1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

            Yes, I've "mastered" this specific recipe. I agree about the espresso powder and I prefer unsweetened coconut because the fellow ingredients do more than their share of carrying the flavor. I enjoy the bars chilled.

        2. When I'm looking for those Canadian baking recipes that I didn't inherit from my mom (Nanaimo bars were one of them, it was till more a west coast specialty when I was younger), I go to - their recipes are foolproof.

          1. I made the Nainaimo bars from the closet cooking blog that HILL J suggested. I used unsweetened coconut and everything came out just perfect. They looked gorgeous, tasted delicious, and my canadian expat was so impressed. I sent her home with the leftovers, it made her so happy! Anyway, thanks again to everyone for their input. Its moments like last night that make me appreciate Chowhounders so much!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

              That's wonderful LR. Good for you! Closet Cooking's blog is one of my favorites and his recipes always work. The Nanaimo Bar happens to be a deliciously simple combo of flavors. My family enjoys them too.

            2. This is the one I've been using since I lived in Vancouver over 20 years ago. Hope you can find Bird's powder. It's essential as is having the phone # of a cardiologist at hand. I always refer to these as Three Layers of Butter Bars. And they are very much worth looking forward to.

              Nanaimo Bars

              Base Layer:
              • 1/2 cup butter, melted
              • 1/4 cup sugar
              • 1/3 cup cocoa
              • 1 egg
              • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs
              • 1 cup flaked coconut
              • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

              Filling Layer:
              • 1/4 cup butter
              • 2 tablespoon Bird's custard powder
              • 1 teaspoon vanilla
              • 3 tablespoon milk
              • 2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

              Icing Layer:
              • 3 ounce semisweet chocolate
              • 1 tablespoon butter


              Base Layer: Mix together ingredients. Press into a 9" square pan. Refrigerate while making filling.

              Filling: Cream together butter, custard powder and vanilla. Gradually blend in milk and confectioners' sugar, alternating between additions. Filling will be stiff.

              Spread over chilled base. A bent-handled spatula dipped in water does the job. Chill to firm before adding icing.

              Icing: Melt chocolate and butter together. Pour over chilled bars, tilting pan to cover evenly and smoothly. Chill well before slicing into bars.

              Store in fridge.

              Makes 48 bars

              • These delicious bars made their reputation among people making the ferry crossing from Vancouver to Victoria. The ferry terminal on the island is in Nanaimo.