The Ultimate Nanaimo Bar

  • prep time15 min
  • total time 105 min
  • serves 12

This iconic Canadian dessert recipe comes straight from the heart of Nanaimo, B.C. – from the annals of the one-and-only Nanaimo Museum!  

Courtesy of Joyce Hardcastle, Nanaimo, B.C.

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Scroll down to watch how to make this recipe. 

5840 Ratings
Directions for: The Ultimate Nanaimo Bar


Bottom Layer

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (preferably European-style cultured butter)

5 Tbsp (75 mL) cocoa powder

¼ cup (50 mL) granulated sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 ¾ cups (425 mL) graham wafer crumbs

1 cup (250 mL) shredded coconut

½ cup (125 mL) almonds, finely chopped

Middle Layer

½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) whipping or heavy cream

2 Tbsp (30 mL) vanilla custard powder

2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar


4 oz (115 g) semi-sweet chocolate

2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter


Bottom Layer

1. Pour 2 cups (500 mL) water into bottom of double boiler. Place on stove over medium heat and bring water to simmer.

2. In top of double boiler; combine butter, cocoa and sugar; place over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Add beaten egg; stir until thick. Remove top of double boiler from heat. Stir in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and almonds.

4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Press firmly to create even bottom layer.

5. Tip: If you don’t have a double boiler, half-fill a saucepan with water and heat over medium heat until water begins to simmer. Then, place a metal or glass bowl over the simmering water and proceed as directed.

Middle Layer

1. In bowl, cream together butter, cream and custard powder. Gradually add icing sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Scrape over bottom layer, smoothing top with spatula or palette knife.


1. In clean double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. When cool, but still liquid, pour over custard layer.

2. Cover and refrigerate until cold.


See more: Chocolate, Comfort Food, Complex, Dessert, Eggs/Dairy, Party Favourites, Great Canadian Cookbook, Christmas, Holiday/Event, Thanksgiving, GCC Thanksgiving, GCC Nanaimo

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