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My Nanaimo bar recipe has layers of coconut-graham crust, creamy vanilla filling, and chocolate ganache. Make this no bake dessert for a delicious treat anytime!
What are Nanaimo bars?
OK, who is ready for a little sweet treat? This no bake, bar cookie is decadent and amazingly easy to put together.
This delicious Canadian dessert is named for the coastal city of Nanaimo, British Colombia. While the exact history and origin are a bit mysterious, it’s well known that these chocolate coconut bars were a common treat in the lunchboxes of local miners.
What are they made of?
The dessert has a chocolate-coconut graham cracker crust and is topped with a smooth chocolate ganache.
Traditionally, the yellow layer in the middle can be either a creamy vanilla-flavored custard or vanilla buttercream. And it doesn’t need to be cooked or tempered because it’s made with butter and heavy cream instead of eggs.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Graham cracker crumbs – either whole graham crackers or store-bought crumbs
- Butter, melted
- Cocoa powder – use unsweetened, either regular or Dutch-processed
- Shredded coconut – unsweetened
- Slivered almonds – can also substitute walnuts or pecans
- Butter, softened
- Custard Powder
- Powdered sugar – also known as confectioner’s sugar
- Heavy cream – also labeled heavy whipping cream
- Vanilla extract
- Butter, melted
- Bittersweet chocolate – either a bar broken into chunks or chocolate chips
Nanaimo bar recipe instructions
- Make the crust: Blend the crust ingredients in a food processor until crumbly and well combined. Pulse until there are no more large chunks.
- Form the crust: Lightly press the mixture along the bottom of a parchment-lined baking dish. Make an even layer with a spatula, spoon, or even your fingers.
- Mix the filling: Beat the ingredients for the filling together until smooth. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed to incorporate lots of air. This will be light and creamy.
- Add to pan: Spoon the custard into the baking pan and gently spread over the crust. Smooth into an even layer with a spatula.
- Melt the chocolate: Melt the butter in a pan on the stove, then add the chocolate and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Finish dessert: Carefully spread the melted chocolate over the filling in a smooth, even layer.
Once you have assembled the chocolate coconut bars, refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until the dessert is completely set.
Then, use a clean, sharp knife to cut into evenly-sized squares before serving.
- Storage – Keep these no bake bars covered or in an airtight container. They will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Freezing – You can wrap each bar tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 6 months. Individual bars can be stored together in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag.
- Cutting the bars – Cut across the bars instead of pressing downward to get cleaner slices. This will also help prevent the top from cracking.
MORE BAR DESSERT RECIPES
- Lemon Berry Streusel Bars
- No Bake Caramel Chocolate Cookie Bars
- Key Lime Bars
- Millionaire Shortbread Bars
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- 8 tbsp butter softened
- 5 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (See Note 1)
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds
- 8 tbsp butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp custard powder (See Note 2)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 4 tbsp butter softened
- Line a 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper with some hanging off edges to lift out easily.
- Melt 8 tablespoons of butter. In a food processor combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds, melted butter, cocoa and sugar. Pulse several times until mixture is ground and well mixed.
- Spoon into prepared 8"x8" baking pan and press crumb mixture evenly into bottom using rubber spatula or hands. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, beat 8 tablespoons of softened butter, powdered sugar, cream, custard powder and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over chocolate crumb layer. Set aside.
- Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and chocolate in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend and let cool for a minute.
- Spread evenly over vanilla layer. Chill until chocolate is firm and dessert is set, at least 4 hours. Cut into squares and serve.
- 4 crackers make up 1 sheet. 5 1/2 sheets ground make 1 cup. For this recipe we will need 6 sheets ground total.
- Bird’s Custard Powder is traditionally used in the filling. Substitutes include: 2 tbsp powdered vanilla pudding OR a quarter cup of powdered milk. Bird’s Custard Powder is available online.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Bird’s Custard Powder is available at Safeway stores in B.C. if u live here, comes in a tin. Also good as for making a custard to go over fruit, I make it in the winter using canned peaches. Carol Thomson-Ferguson Love Nanaimo Bar!
Sounds great! Thank you for the tip!
Everyone at my house really loved it! So good and delicious!
Appreciate the custard powder substitution ideas!
These were so good!! Such a delicious treat! My kids can’t stop eating them!
The layers all go perfectly together!! The fact that they are no bake makes them that much better!!! It’s too hot to bake, these are perfect!
I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much Tisha 🙂
I am loving the beautiful and yummy layers in this sweet treat! Bonus that they’re no bake!
This Nanaimo bar looks absolutely delicious! Yummy!
These look beyond amazing, I need to try them!