Anna Olson's Nanaimo Bars

  • prep time20 min
  • total time 30 min
  • serves 18

The original Nanaimo Bar was created by Joyce Hardcastle in 1985, who created the winning recipe by a contest hosted by the mayor of Nanaimo, British Columbia. It has now become a truly Canadian staple treat.

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1297 Ratings
Directions for: Anna Olson's Nanaimo Bars



1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ cup walnut pieces

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten


½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder

Pinch of salt

3 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract


4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)



1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Lightly grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides.

2. For the crust, combine the graham crumbs with the cocoa powder and salt, then, add the coconut & walnut pieces. Stir in the melted butter and the egg and stir until blended. Press this into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Cool the crust completely before preparing the filling.


1. By hand, beat the butter with 1 cup (130 g) of the icing sugar, the custard powder and a pinch of salt until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and beat in (don’t worry if it doesn’t look smooth at this point – it will smooth out), and then beat in the remaining 1 cup (130 g) of icing sugar. Do not overbeat – the filling should be smooth but not fluffy. Spread this evenly over the cooled crust.


1. For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently with a spatula until melted. Cool the chocolate slightly and then pour this over the filling, spreading to cover it. If you wish, sprinkle the top with a little sea salt. Chill the pan for about 2 hours before slicing into bars.

See more: Bake, Canada Day, Chocolate, Dessert

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