How to Make Canadian Nanaimo Bars

It’s Friday, and I thought we all could use a little fun going into the weekend. So, here’s a simple global recipe!

Those who know me won’t be surprised that the recipe is a dessert. Because I love dessert. I’m 100% an eat-dessert-first person. I joke to my husband all the time that someday I’m going to organize dessert-focused travel tours because whenever I travel, it turns into a dessert tour.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

When I visited Sabrina in Vancouver this summer, we drove by a road sign for Nanaimo, BC. Which prompted reminiscing about the Nanaimo bars we used to eat as kids – Sabrina in Vancouver and me in Oregon – and then giggling when we realized that we pronounced “Nanaimo” differently.

Sabrina says Nan-EYE-mo and I grew up calling them NAA-ni-mo bars.  I had no idea until this summer that Nanaimo bars were 1) Canadian and 2) named after a city in British Columbia and 3) came in both peanut butter and custard varieties – I grew up eating the peanut butter kind. I’m going to assume Sabrina has the correct pronunciation!

Once back in North Carolina, I asked Aaron – who grew up in Chicago – if he’d heard of them and he said no. So I’m wondering, did you eat Nanaimo bars as a kid? How did you pronounce Nanaimo? Did you eat the peanut butter or custard bars?

Anyway, I made a batch of custard Nanaimo bars a few weeks ago and wow, they are tasty. Very rich, dense, creamy, and buttery. If you don’t like butter or sugar, these probably aren’t for you. But if you’re looking for simple, global recipe for kids, Nanaimo bars are a great choice because there’s no baking involved.

Here’s how to make custard Nanaimo bars. For the official recipe, click here. For peanut butter Nanaimo bars, click here. Happy Friday!

How to Make Nanaimo Bars

Arranging your food like this will make your Nanaimo bars taste better. For serious.
Arranging ingredients like this will make your Nanaimo bars taste better.

Gather 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/4 graham cracker crumbs, 5 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 chopped almonds, and one egg for the first layer.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Melt butter on the stove or pop it in the microwave. Mix in cocoa powder and sugar. Add one beaten egg and stir well while the mixture is hot. Add shredded coconut, cup chopped almonds, and graham cracker crumbs.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Then, take a weird accidental picture with your camera as you pick it up.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Press the mixture into an 8 x 8in pan lined with parchment paper.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Take another weird accidental picture while picking up your camera.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Cream 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp plus 2 Tsp cream, and 2 Tbsp vanilla pudding mix for the second layer. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. (Make sure the butter is room temperature, otherwise you may end up biting into large chunks of butter in your bars. Ask me how I know this.)

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Spread the custard mixture over the crust. Pop in the fridge until the third layer is finished.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Melt 4oz of chocolate and 2 Tbsp of butter and mix together for the third layer.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Let chocolate mixture cool slightly, then spread over the custard mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

When the chocolate has cooled, cut into pieces.

Canadian Nanaimo Bars

Eat and enjoy!

Did you eat Nanaimo bars as a kid? How do you pronounce Nanaimo? Do you prefer the custard or peanut butter kind?

About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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