Don’t even ask me how to pronounce it. I just know a nanaimo bar is one of my favorite dessert bars of all time.
What is a Nanaimo Bar?
It is a popular Canadian no-bake dessert bar made with a chocolate coconut graham cracker crust with a creamy custard filling and topped with melted decadent chocolate.
Years ago, I went on a girls trip to a cabin in Pinetop, Arizona. It’s the perfect getaway for busy mamas because it literally entails sweats, food, and lots of chat time with girlfriends. We decided to venture out and actually get some food made by someone else. There is a popular restaurant in town known for down home comfort food. As we were paying our bill at the counter, the lady asked if we wanted to try their famous nanaimo bars? I had no idea what language she was speaking but when she told me what was in them, I was SOLD. We devoured the bar and went back the next day to get another one.
Since that day in Pinetop, Arizona, it has been my quest to make the ultimate nanaimo bar.
How do you make nanaimo bars?
The beauty of these triple layer dessert bars is that you don’t even have to heat up your oven. This is a no-bake dessert bar that just needs chilling in order to set up.
You start with melting butter over low heat and adding brown sugar, cocoa powder, an egg and vanilla. Then you stir in graham cracker crumbs, sweetened coconut, and sliced almonds.
The next layer is a creamy layer of custard cream. It is made with butter, custard powder, heavy cream and powdered sugar. It is so decadent! The topping is a rich chocolate layer made with melted chocolate and butter for a glossy smooth layer.
The custard cream uses a custard powder. I found Bird’s custard powder at Cost Plus World Market but you can also find it here on Amazon. For an authentic nanaimo bar, it calls for custard powder but you may substitute instant vanilla pudding.
- ½ cup Butter
- ⅓ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1¾ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
- ½ cup Sliced Almonds
- Custard Layer:
- ½ cup Butter, softened
- ⅓ cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons Custard Powder (such as Birds. May substitute instant vanilla pudding)
- 2 cups Powdered Sugar
- Chocolate Layer:
- 1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar and cocoa powder and stir well for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Add 1 egg and stir well.
- Return mixture to stove and cook for 1c- 2 minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Stir in graham cracker crumbs, flaked coconut, and sliced almonds.
- Press mixture into a greased 8 by 8-inch or 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, heavy cream and custard powder until light and fluffy --
- about 3-4 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix for 1 minute longer.
- Spread custard filling over chilled graham cracker layer.. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- In microwave safe bowl, place butter in microwave and cook for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips and keep stirring until glossy and smooth. Spread chocolate into an even layer over custard layer.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes until chocolate has set. Cut into squares. Best served chilled.
- *Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
Let me know what you think of these nanaimo bars! Find me on instagram at modern_honey.