Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bars. Nah-nay-mo. Have you heard of them? Yeah, don’t worry I hadn’t either until I had one at a Christmas party this year (The same party Bette Jane and I made the gnome santa cookies for!). But everyone should try them. I vote these the most underrated dessert in the history of ever. Well, I guess they can’t be underrated if no one has ever heard of them. So that’s what I’m here for. To tell you about these Nanaimo things.

And get this: they are from a foreign land called Canada. Nanaimo, British Columbia to be specific. And thank god they were invented, because these are the best no-bake cookie bars I’ve ever had. It’s composed of a chocolate-y, coconut-y, graham cracker-y cookie layer, a custard-y buttercream frosting layer, and then topped with chocolate ganache. Three layers of awesome. Apparently you can find them at grocery stores up in Canada. So jealous. We should have them in grocery stores here. Even better, someone should open a bakery based on these bars. I’ll get on it.

Serious YUM.

Nanaimo Bars

Makes about 64 small pieces


Cookie layer:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp. of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup of crushed graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup of crushed nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes

Custard layer:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 tbsp of heavy cream or milk

Chocolate ganache layer:

  • 4 oz. of semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp of butter


Cookie layer:

  1. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder together on a double boiler. Mix until smooth. Take it off the heat, and beat in the egg. It’ll look slightly lumpy/grainy– don’t freak.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, coconut, and nuts together until the graham crackers are fine.
  3. Mix the chocolate mixture with the graham cracker/coconut/nut mixture until it comes together. Press this mixture evenly in a parchment lined 8×8 baking dish. Put in the fridge for 30 min while you make the next layer.

Custard layer:

  1. Beat the butter, sugar, pudding powder, and milk together until light and fluffy. It’ll be pretty thick, like buttercream frosting. Spread this on top of the cookie layer as evenly as possible.
  2. Put in the fridge for 30 min while you make the next layer.

Chocolate layer:

  1. Melt the 4 oz. of chocolate and butter in a double boiler and mix until smooth. Careful not to burn the chocolate!
  2. Pour the melted chocolate over the custard layer as evenly as possible. It helps to shake the baking pan to make it more even. The chocolate layer will be thin.
  3. Put in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. I did it overnight.

To serve: Cut the bars using a hot, clean knife. I ran the knife under some hot water. This method worked okay, I still got some streaks of chocolate that ran into the custard layer, but at least the chocolate didn’t crack! I thought it helped a bit to let the bars sit at room temperature before cutting.


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