A Childhood Favorite

Oh, the memories!

Oh, the memories!

Today I bring you a unique recipe: Nanaimo Bars! (Pronounced: nan-eye-mo)

If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a deliciously rich treat that gets its name from the city of Nanaimo, in British Columbia.  I am posting this recipe in honor of a couple people very dear to me.  Miss Dot…she and her husband, Mr. Gordon, were neighbors of ours when we lived overseas.  I recall many an afternoon heading straight for the courtyard to play and we would be stopped by Miss Dot, proffering a plate of these delights.

Oh, the taste sensation!  They were always deliciously cold, with the most unique combination of flavors.  These bring back memories of playing with my friends in the courtyard, dips in the ocean and endless hours outside.  I’m sorry to say Miss Dot and Mr. Gordon are no longer with us here, but she will forever be in my memory.

The other very special person is my (chosen) Aunt*.  Karen is Canadian and I have known her since before my baby brother was born (let’s not count years here….).  She helped me pick a Nanaimo recipe to use (there are many different versions on the Internet).  I’m so blessed to have her as one of my dearest friends.

So, in their honor, here is the link to the recipe that is also below, along with any notes of mine.  Cream, butter – I used it all!  One of the key ingredients is Bird’s Custard Powder, which I picked up at a British Tea House.

Bottom Layer

1 stick (1/2 C.) unsalted butter

1/4 C. sugar (I used cane sugar)

5 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 C. graham cracker crumbs (one package that I crushed worked just fine for me)

1/2 C. finely chopped almonds (I used sliced almonds that I chopped)

1 C. shredded coconut (I used sweetened, as it was in my baking cabinet.)

  •  Line an 8×8″ pan with aluminum foil, extending over the sides by about an inch.  Foil forms very easily to all the crevices, and the overhang will allow you to pull the bars out without any mess.
  • Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a pot, over medium heat.  I didn’t use a double boiler, so I just kept the heat low and kept an eye on it.  While that melts, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds in a medium-sized bowl (large enough for thorough mixing).
  • When the butter mixture has melted and is combined, temper the egg by pouring a few tablespoons of the hot mixture into the egg, whisking all the while.  This will raise the temperature of the egg, so it doesn’t scramble.  Repeat this, then pour the egg mixture back into the pot, continuing to whisk.  This will cook the egg as well as thicken the mixture.
  •  To ensure there were no bits of cooked egg, I poured it through a strainer into the graham cracker mixture.  Use a spoon to stir the chocolate and push it through the sieve.  Mix thoroughly and press evenly into the pan; put in the freezer to chill.  (Disposable kitchen gloves makes mixing and forming the crust so much easier!)


    The yummy crust, ready to chill! Don’t taste it…you won’t be able to stop!

Middle Layer

1 stick (1/2 C.) unsalted butter (preferably room temperature)

2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. heavy cream

2 Tbs. vanilla custard powder

2 C. confectionary sugar (powdered sugar, 10x sugar – it’s all the same)

  •  If the butter isn’t soft, beat it for a few minutes until it softens and is creamy.
  • Add the cream, custard powder, and sugar.  Beat another couple minutes until fluffy; scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Beat again until everything is incorporated.  It’ll be very fluffy:


  • Spread over the crust layer; put the crust back in the freezer.

Top Layer

1/2 C. (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

  •  Melt the chocolate and butter together, then spread over the layer of custard.    I melted it in a saucepan.  If the butter you’re using is cold, be careful when stirring.  Apparently the cold butter can fly out of the saucepan and decorate your shirt and the counter.  Who knew?
  • Freeze the bars until completely set, at least an hour.  Mine ended up staying in for nearly 24 hours and they were fine.  I suggest using a large kitchen knife when cutting, it’s much easier.
  • Pull the bars out and cut into squares.  I cut mine into 20.  These are decadent and adorable!  If you are hosting a tea or part, you can always cut the squares in half for more of a petite four….although I was nearly smacked when I suggested making them smaller!
A plate of decadence!

A plate of decadence!

No, they may not look absolutely perfect, but that doesn’t bother me at all.  🙂

Here, have a closer look at the mouth-watering layers…

photo(21)Can you see the coconut and almonds in the crust?!  Looks unsuspecting, doesn’t it – hah!  It has everyone fooled, until you take a bite, then it becomes most fantastic explosion of flavor!!

Don’t let this recipe intimidate you, it is not hard!  Read through the instructions a couple of times and have everything prepped and ready, it’s really simple!

I hope you try these and enjoy them as much I do!!  They bring back such marvelous memories.

Also, I have a nearly full container of Bird’s Custard Powder remaining.  If you make anything with it, please let me know!  Sure, I could scour the Internet, but I  love hearing about favorite recipes.


*Karen is a brilliant photographer and I unapologetically promote her website.  Take a peek and be amazed!





This entry was posted in bake baker recipe baking dessert chocolate bare toe toes toed, Dessert, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Childhood Favorite

  1. Karen C says:

    Nanaimo bars are a staple here in British Columbia, and so delicious. They literally melt in your mouth and leave you wanting for more.

    Thank you for posting this recipe from an oft overlooked part of the world on beautiful Vancouver Island, truly an land of legends and mists.


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