by guest blogger, Jayne

I was feeling nostalgic for home on Canada Day, but since I gave all of my baking supplies (including my beautiful red Kitchenaid mixer) to Karen for safekeeping until we can buy our own house, I crashed her house and forced her to “bake” these delicious, no-bake bars with me.


Nanaimo is a town on picturesque Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. The origin of the bars is shrouded in mystery. Considering the origin of the word ‘nanaimo’ came from a Canadian First Nations word meaning “a big, strong tribe” it’s assumed that the bars got their name from the town, and weren’t a traditional, First Nations delicacy.

The whole reason I thought about Nanaimo bars is because Australians love their slices. Slices aren’t common in North America, and the only Canadian thing I could think of similar to a slice was Nanaimo bars.

I googled the recipe, and it turns out the City of Nanaimo hosts a recipe on their website! Here it is (with my super helpful tips and tricks):

Nanaimo Bars

Download recipe as PDF

Bottom layer

1/2 C unsalted butter
1/4 C caster sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 C crushed Graham crackers (we used Arnotts Teddy Bears)
1/2 C finely chopped blanched almonds
1 C coconut (shredded or desiccated, depending on your preference)

Melt the butter, caster sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an 8″ x 8″ pan. Place in fridge to cool.

*There is no need to grease your pan. Expect the bottom layer to be quite thick, roughly 2cm.


Middle layer

1/2 C unsalted butter
2 Tbsp and 2 Tsp cream
2 Tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 C icing sugar (sift if it is lumpy)

Cream together butter, cream, custard powder. Gradually add icing sugar.

Beat until light and fluffy. Spread over bottom layer. Place in fridge to cool.

*The custard powder will cause the mixture to have a yellowish colour

Top layer

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (we used 4 ounces dark chocolate chips)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Melt and combine chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

*The heat from the chocolate mixture may cause the middle layer to melt a little, don’t worry about this it still tastes great and gives your top layer a bit of a yellow swirl.

Cut the bars up, preferably in small pieces as they are quite sweet. Then put them in and around your mouth. Smile!


If you would like to take a look at the City of Nanaimo website, click here.

While I couldn’t be with my family celebrating in my hometown for Canada Day it was great to be able to share a taste of home with my friends.

My last baking tip for everyone, grab a friend and a bottle of wine to share and enjoy yourselves.




4 thoughts on “Nanaimo bars for Canada Day

  1. Hey Jayne, nice to see you blogging. This is me, Chris, of the long-ago ants in Vancouver, signing in using my blogging id. I never knew that Nanaimo bars had almonds in them, which makes them quite healthy. 🙂
    Or not, but oh well. Good to know. Will you be starting a blog of your own? Do take care!


  2. Looks yummy Jayne. I am surprised the Nanaimo website used almonds but that works for you. Had I not been off celebrating Canada Day on Capitol Hill (which was awesome! but we did lament the lack of said bars in Ottawa), you’d have asked me & I would have told you to use walnuts. So you might not have made them – you kids hated walnuts. That’s why I rarely made them as you were growing up. XO Mum


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