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Nanaimo Bars

February 9, 2010

There was a Daring Bakers Challenge in the last couple of weeks and though not participating in that event, I saw a couple of posts about Nainamo bars and the pictures that accompanied them and they looked delicious; even if their name was a bit funny. I first made some for a ‘Girls Nite In’ I hosted a couple of weeks ago and they were so well received I made them again for a Super Bowl party I went to on Sunday. They are so simple and yes, a bit addictive. I made a double batch for the Super Bowl so I could freeze half and have them on hand for an Oscar party I’m hosting in March…cause @fujimama said they would freeze well; thanks Rachel!

Nainamo Bars

This is a treat from Canada named after Nanaimo, British Columbia; they are ubiquitous enough that they are apparently sold in grocery stores, bakeries and coffee shops. Really easy to prepare too as there is no baking!

I revised the recipe just a bit from the one found here as I’m not sure what vanilla powder is so used vanilla pudding mix and just because…I added a bit of vanilla too!

Nanaimo Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A decadent treat from Canada these are simple to make and a thoroughly decadent chocolate, nutty treat.
Serves: 12 bars
For the Bottom Layer:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
For the Second Layer:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla pudding powder (not instant)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
For the Third/top Layer:
  • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
To Prepare the bottom layer:
  1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add beaten egg gradually and whisk to incorporate. Mixture should thicken as egg is incorporated. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
To Make the Second Layer:
  1. Cream butter, vanilla and pudding powder in large bowl. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk and once all is incorporated, beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
  2. Cool in fridge (makes spreading top layer so much easier if this layer hardens a bit.
To make the Top Layer:
  1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over 2nd layer and spread to cover. Chill in refrigerator.
NOTE: The first time I made these, the directions I used said to just mix in the egg with the butter/chocolate mixture in the pan. The mixture separated and I could not get them incorporated together. So I pitched it all and started over; with the same results. 2nd time though I brought out my immersion blender and it worked like a charm in two seconds to blend everything together.

For my 2nd attempt for the Super Bowl party, I found that if I whisk as I add the egg, it blends together without the immersion blender...but good to know that if you have a problem with separating, a quick blend will give you the desired results.

I have to say it…’Bet you can’t eat just one!’

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Holly January 19, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Yes, I do need to make these!! Will let you know when I do for sure.
Holly Most Recent Post: Lemon Bundt with Lemon Curd Filling for #BundtaMonth


2 nancy February 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

this is a tweak of a very old canadian recipe my mom has made every year at christmas….and ONLY at christmas! It’s a family favorite.


3 Creative Culinary February 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I haven’t made them for awhile but maybe because when I did I could not stop eating them. Thank you Canada. :)


4 mjskit January 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

These look absolutely delicious! The pieces in the pictures are perfect. You really need to think about selling them! I’d buying them!
mjskit Most Recent Post: Green Beans and Persimmons


5 Creative Culinary January 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

I was intrigued by them but never expected to LOVE them. I mean really love them. Ate far too many before I decided to share. :)


6 German Mama January 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

These look great. I also came across several recipes for these treats while researching recipes for Cook Around the Globe. They really seem to have become a Canadian staple. Thanks for linking up the recipe.
German Mama Most Recent Post: Chocolate Spritz Cookies


7 Creative Culinary January 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

They are simple and yet amazingly addictive. I know these things. :)


8 Delishhh April 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Wow, these look amazing. I have to try these out. Thanks fo posting!


9 Fuji Mama February 19, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I keep meaning to come and comment on this post, but uh, let’s just say that if my head wasn’t attached to my neck, I’d be out a head. Sigh. Your pictures are STUNNING. So glad you liked the bars! I made a double batch and froze a bunch for the Opening Ceremony of the olympics. We ended up not eating all of them for the opening, so I kept the leftovers in the freezer. Can I just say, that they are AMAZING frozen? You leave them out for about 2 minutes to thaw SLIGHTLY. Needless to say, they are now all gone, and please don’t ask me how many I ate.


10 MrsDocChuck February 17, 2010 at 11:02 am

I sincerely apologize for my husband’s rude behavior. I suspect it was the nasal spray talking. He’s a retired “educator” with a rather esoteric worldview, but nevertheless is as kind and generous as our financial situation at the moment allows.

I just wanted you to know that I made your delightful Nainamo Bars for our Valentine’s Day dessert. I even splurged and bought Bird’s Custard at Wegman’s, too. They were divine!! We ate the whole pan of them in one sitting. Chuck did not remember that they came from Vino Luci and I’m not going to tell him (for fear he’ll post here after medicating).

Thanks so much for an easy-peasy and totally delicious recipe.


11 Cristie February 15, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Oh, Barbara- these look beautiful. I have got to try this recipe out.


12 desiree February 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

(UN)kind Sir,
I have no real attachment to this blog or its writer. I was directed here from, which can be a fun little romp in foodie(I know how you adore that term) heaven during the few moments of downtime one might find throughout the day.
Having said that, I, too, was perplexed by your inappropriate outburst. Upon suggestion of another confused viewer, I visited your Myspace page, and was quite amused as the level of hypocrisy I found there in light of your little rant here.
It appears you think quite highly of yourself and your beloved Dr. E, whom I’d venture to guess would probably rather you keep the details of the happening in your bedroom to yourself.
My particular favorite was the titles you bestowed upon your photo albums “Our Maine,” “Our New England,” “OUR this” and “OUR that.” I’ll have to check with the people of those places to see if they’re aware of your claim to all those many places.
While I could go on and on, I don’t find it necessary. Anyone visiting your site can see for him or herself just what kind of “gourmet” cooking, real estate-investing, apparently bored food-blog-critiquing egomaniac you are.
My admittedly unsolicited advice: Unless you’re paying to read someone’s blog, keep YOUR condescending attitude to yourself, DOC. We need that ALMOST as much as your tasteless and self-indulgent play-by-play of your Valentine’s Day “marital experience.”
Good day.


13 Marti February 12, 2010 at 8:55 pm

VL… I wanted to send you a note privately, but for some reason, my computer isn’t coming up with an email. Drop me a line, if you would please? Just something interesting I thought to add about your Nanaimo Bar post. :)

Have a great weekend!


14 Creative Culinary February 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Nice communicating with you; thanks for getting in touch!


15 Michelle February 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Dr. Duck must be expecting a boring Valentine’s Day. ;)


16 Penny Wolf February 11, 2010 at 4:57 am

These bars look great and I am going to give them a try.
I have seen DocChuck comments on other sites and they are always insulting. But for some reason I laugh out loud when I read
what he writes.


17 Creative Culinary February 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’m with you Penny…nothing I could say could made him look as bad as what he felt compelled to say…all over a little dessert bar!


18 Memoria February 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

These bars look absolutely perfect. I was one of the many DBers who made these bars, and I didn’t use custard powder or vanilla pudding mix. I just used cornstarch, sugar and vanilla, and it worked out perfectly. I saw on someone else’s blog that since cornstarch is in powdered sugar, they just used sugar and vanilla. I hope that helps you out the next time you make these.

I love these bars. I can’t wait to make them again.


19 Allison February 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm


Why do you think this post was directed at you? Do you walk into kindergarten classes and shout about how outrageous it is that they tried to teach a 67-year old Gourmet cook (with an Ed.D. AND a Ph.D., by the way) what the colours on a stoplight mean?


20 Lola February 10, 2010 at 4:36 pm

By the way, your bars look fantastic.


21 Lola February 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Wow! I had to go back and read her post twice to figure out where you were coming from, DocChuck. It truly saddens me that people such as yourself feel the need to visit blogs simply to trash the writer. I think you may be the narcissist with the inflated ego. Really, who throws out their credentials on a food blog and gets this heated over a dessert?


22 Tom February 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm

“Wow! I had to go back and read her post twice to figure out where you were coming from, DocChuck.”

I read it several times and I STILL don’t know what prompted that ridiculous outburst.


23 sunnysmile February 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Take a look at his website, then you will see who is narcissistic. What a moron.


24 Barbara Bakes February 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Yours look perfect! Please don’t try the frozen ones! I already made that mistake for you!


25 Peter February 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm

We make Nanaimo bars each Christmas and they are a family fave. Well done, my dear. Psst….got any left?


26 RJ Flamingo February 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I started to leave you a comment earlier, but my iPhone rang and kicked me out of the post!

Anyway, what I started to say, is that I visited a number of the Daring Bakers’ posts of this scrumptious-sounding treat, and fell in love! Also avoided it like the plague for obvious (read: fattening) reasons. :-)) You’ve managed to make it sound even easier – so I may have to make a batch in honor of the Olympics (good excuse, right?)!


27 Jamie February 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I am making these today, with a little twist for Valentine’s Day. They look and sound fab!

This is apparently the custard powder that is used in these babies,

BUT I am with you and swapping out the vanilla pudding powder! Nice job, Barb!


28 Creative Culinary February 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

You’re right…that’s it…Bird’s Custard powder which is a UK based product and used for custards…our puddings! It’s not readily available and it seems that vanilla pudding powder does the trick! I think I’ve seen it at Cost Plus and have read that it can sometimes be found in either British or Indian grocers.

Can’t wait to see your Valentine’s Day take on them!


29 Lori @ RecipeGirl February 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

I’ve always wanted to try this recipe that I can never spell! They look delicious. I don’t know what vanilla powder would be either. Hmmm?


30 Creative Culinary February 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Traditionally it’s a UK product called Bird’s Vanilla Custard…so easy to see why vanilla pudding would be substituted.

They are very good…you should try them, really easy to make and very easy to devour (although do not fit into a #10in10 in any way, shape or form!).


31 Janis Timlick June 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

This recipe has been in our family for many years, in fact, most of my life! We traditionally make them at Christmas–and yes! DO USE the Bird’s Vanilla custard. It makes a world of difference. You can order it online, or get it in some groceries stores now. I get mine from my sister in Canada. I would NEVER use ordinary vanilla pudding!


32 Creative Culinary June 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I would use it if available but seems that’s not the case in South Denver…will have to manage without! These were so good…guess not knowing the difference worked too. I am way too spontaneous to plan something that requires an online ingredient; heck, if I don’t have it in the pantry when I get the urge to make something; well, let’s just say Substitutions R Us! If I decide to include in this years holiday gift baskets…maybe I will initiate that planning so thanks in any event for the advice!


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