The pride of Vancouver Island is simple to make and easier to eat. This classic Nanaimo Bar recipe has a couple of adaptations (more chocolate and finely ground nuts) and will make you very popular with the sweet lovers in your life!

Makes ~ 25 squares


Base Layer:
1/2 cup  butter
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup unsweetened coconut (shredded or flaked)
1/2 cup walnuts, finely ground (optional – use any nut you like or leave out)

Centre Layer:
2 cups powdered (icing/confectioners)sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Top Layer:
8 ounces good quality semisweet baker’s chocolate or pure chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter


Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch (23 cm) square pan with parchment paper. Buttering the pan helps the parchment paper stay put while you’re building your bars. Leave a bit hanging over the sides so you can easily remove the pan and cut into squares.

Base layer: Over medium low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Don’t boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and cocoa powder. Once combined, whisk in the beaten egg. Return to medium low heat and cook until the mixture thickens – for a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and ground nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about one hour). If you’re short on time, you can pop it into the freezer, as well.

Centre Layer: Using a hand mixer or electric stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the custard powder, vanilla, icing sugar, and milk or cream and continue beating until smooth. The mixture should be thick, but spreadable. Add liquid or icing sugar to adjust the consistency. Spread the filling evenly over the chilled base and return to the fridge for 30 minutes or until the centre layer is also firm.

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth or melt over very low heat on the stove. Whisk in the butter and allow the chocolate mixture to cool a bit. You don’t want it hot enough to melt your cream centre, but it needs to be liquid enough to spread.  Pour the melted chocolate over the chilled base and centre. If you start on one end, you can tip the pan until the entire top is covered making for a totally smooth top. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Chill for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate sets. Using a sharp knife, score the top layer into squares and then cut.