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Nainamo Bars


According to local legend about 35 years ago, a Nanaimo housewife entered her recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest. She chose to dub the entry "Nanaimo Bars". The entry won a prize, thereby promoting the town as much as her cooking. Nanaimo residents refuse to accept this theory, however, believing that once you set foot on Vancouver Island, there are no other places in the world. The official Nanaimo Bar recipe was available as a handout as well as on quality tea towel and apron souvenirs. What matters is that these are downright easy and delicious! The bottom layer is a graham cracker-chocolate combination with either walnuts or pecans. Coconut is optional. The middle layer is a custard-based vanilla buttercream, and the top layer is melted chocolate. These are easy to make, and so popular at Christmas time.

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Rate this recipe 4.3/5 (3 Votes)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped (or pecans or almonds)
  • 1 cup coconut (more traditional, but I don't add this)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (I use Bird's brand) You can use vanilla pudding mix, but it doesn't taste as good
  • 8 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1-ounce each)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter


Servings 24
Preparation time 10mins
Cooking time 130mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Bottom layer:

Melt first 3 ingredients, butter, sugar and cocoa powder in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat.

Stir in crumbs, coconut (if using and nuts. Press firmly into an un-greased 8-inch x 8-inch pan. I like to line mine with parchment paper.

Middle layer:

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and confectioners sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top layer:

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Note: I melt the chocolate in the microwave, and add a little bit of half & half as well-- maybe 2 tablespoons.

Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before cutting.

These are very rich, so I cut these into small squares.

These are perfect for holiday cookies.


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