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Jun 24, 2012 08:42 PM

nanaimo bars

Hi all!!! I'm invited to a Canada day party and was requested to bring nanaimo bars. I have never seen nor eaten these before so I'm not sure how to figure out which is the best recipe to use! I did a little research here on chowhound and elsewhere and narrowed it down to three recipes. They have slight variations between them, so I want to make sure I choose the best. Can any of you help me, please? :)

Thank you!

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  1. Although it's been 30 (!) years since I lived in B.C., I remember Nanaimo Bars as having a chocolaty bottom layer, which the Lazy Gourmet version does not. Also, because the rich deep chocolate flavor (or flavour, if we're talking Canada Day) of the top layer is so important, I would shy away from using melted chocolate chips. The feathery lines are cute but not authentic. So my vote goes to ...... Closet Cooking's recipe!
    Good luck & enjoy the party.

    3 Replies
    1. re: almond tree

      Thank you for the input. You're totally correct. I would absolutely never use chocolate chips. I plan to use a high quality chocolate for the topping.

      I think the Lazy Dog recipe may have an error and they forgot the cocoa? The photo on the website shows the bottom layer looking chocolatey. Hmm...

      1. re: junglekitte

        Just noticed there are several comments about the lack of choc in the Lazy Gourmet's recipe, but no reply.

      2. re: almond tree

        This assessment is bang on.

        I make Nanaimo bars fairly regularly, and I would not consider the Lazy Gourmet or the food pusher version to be a real Nanaimo bar. They're just not.

        1. re: paulj

          The first one listed above ( is the most accurate one so far. Almonds work better than walnuts or pecans both flavor and texture wise.

          1. re: Jzone

            vanilla custard powder is Birds, right?

            Is this the traditional that normally requires cooking, or instant that thickens when just mixed with liquid?

            1. re: paulj

              Definitely Birds, and I've always used the traditional one, although I doubt it matters that much. It's never cooked, so it's mostly just there for the flavour and the corn starch.

              1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                I was wondering that the corn starch was doing for it, since it isn't cooked. Instant has a modified starch that doesn't need heat. But as you say, maybe it's the flavor that matters most. The recipe must predate the instant stuff.

                1. re: paulj

                  Many places describe that middle layer as a buttercream. I wonder the custard powder (mainly cornstarch) helps thicken it by absorbing moisture. There isn't enough heat to actually gelatinize the cornstarch.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Yeah, I'm pretty sure that flavour is the real purpose of the custard. I doubt it thickens it much, but it does give it just a touch of that squeaky starch consistency (at least I think it does -- it could be all in my head). Also, a nanaimo bar wouldn't be a nanaimo bar if the filling wasn't that weird shade of yellow, which comes entirely from the custard powder.

            2. re: Jzone

              According to a friend living in Tofino, when walnuts are used in place of almonds, the bar is usually called a Tofino Bar.

            3. re: paulj

              I also use the recipe from It's authentic.

              I double the top chocolate layer, though, as do many of my Canadian friends. :)

              1. re: LMAshton

                Ooooh -- double chocolate! Especially tempting because this recipe calls for real chocolate, not chips.
                I wonder if I can find custard powder anywhere around here :).

            4. Not Canadian, but I love the peanut butter version here. This is my go to recipe for them.


              1. From just down the road from Nanaimo, I remember the best Ginger Ice Cream. (If somebody brings it, could you get their recipe?)

                1. Nanaimo is my home town!

                  Chocolate bottom layer with coconut, creamy middle layer that is definitely *not* mint or coffee or peanut butter flavoured (or any other novelty flavour), high quality dark chocolate for the top.