Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nanaimo Bars for Alpha Bakes

This month's randomly generated letter for Alpha Bakes is 'N' and coincidentally I've wanted to make these Nanaimo bars for a while this was the perfect opportunity. This is also a no bake recipe which was ideal for me as I've just moved home and haven't quite fathomed out how to work the oven yet!
A Nanaimo bar consists of three layers - the bottom layer is made from crushed biscuits, butter, cocoa powder and eggs, these also have walnuts and desiccated coconut. The middle layer is a combination of icing sugar, butter, custard powder and cream, then the whole thing is topped off with a layer of chocolate ganache.
You may be wondering where the name Nanaimo comes from, it is in fact a town on Vancouver Island, Canada. You can just about see on the map below that is across a stretch of water from the city of Vancouver...and I have in fact actually visited Nanaimo...but I don't remember trying a Nanaimo bar!
The recipe first came about in the 1950s when a Canadian housewife submitted her recipe for inclusion in a WI cookbook. When published the recipe became extremely popular and the coffee shops in Nanaimo started to sell the a result they then became known as Nanaimo bars and since then their popularity has spread all over Canada and beyond!
These Nanaimo bars were well received by the taste testers, although they're very rich and you only need a little square. Making all the layers coupled with the chilling also takes a little time but they were worth the effort.
Alpha Bakes is a monthly challenge hosted by Ros at the More than Occasional Baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes.



300g digestive or rich tea biscuits
170g butter
75g caster sugar
45g cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g desiccated coconut
75g roughly chopped walnuts


85g butter
345g icing sugar
3 tbsp custard powder
100 ml double cream


225g dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa) chopped
200ml double cream
40g unsalted butter

Use a 23 x 33 cm baking tray and then line the base and sides with foil.

Firstly, crush the biscuits (either digestive or rich tea), you can do this in a food processor or alternatively in a bag with a rolling pin. Put this to one side and begin melting the butter in a medium to large saucepan. Once fully melted remove from the heat and mix in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually beat in the eggs. It is maybe advisable to have all the ingredients weighed out beforehand. At this stage I also used a balloon whisk to blend the ingredients. Return the the saucepan to the heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat again and stir in the vanilla, biscuit and coconut. This mixture is then ready to press into the bottom of the baking tray. It should be firmly pressed in and the top should be even. Chill for at least 1 hour.

For the next layer make sure the butter is nice and soft. This can then be beaten until really light and fluffy. Once at this stage the icing sugar can be beaten in until smooth. To prevent the icing sugar flying everywhere cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. Finally, add the custard powder and cream and beat again on a high speed until the mixture is lovely and fluffy. Spread this layer over the first again making sure it's even. Chill for 30 minutes.

To make the third and final layer, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a bowl. Then gently head the cream in a saucepan until it is just boiling, when it reaches this stage pour it over the top of the chocolate and leave for around 2 minutes. You can then gently stir the mixture until it is smooth. Add the butter and stir again, this should give you a smooth ganache. Pour over the custard layer and spread evenly. Chill again until it appears set.

Once the whole thing has set you can cut it into squares with a sharp knife. This recipe can make up to 40 squares depending on how small you cut them! A top tip is to dip the knife in hot water for a few seconds (and then wiping it dry) before cutting as this will give a nice clean cut.

* Adapted from the Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber


  1. Your naniamo bars look delicious, really scrummy x

  2. Hi Laura,

    I've not heard this delicious treat, Nanaimo bar before and I think yours look fabulous. I reckon every slice of this will be a great gift for Christmas.


  3. I love these bars! Made them about 3 years ago. Must make them again! Xx

  4. They look interesting these bars and they must be a melt in your mouth little treats!

  5. These look amazing!! I've bookmarked this recipe and it's been on my to bake list for ages but I still haven't gotten round to it. I'll be moving house soon so maybe that would be a good time to make this! Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

  6. These look fantastic - I'm a bit jealous as I was going to make this exact same recipe for Alphabakes and I doubt mine will turn out so perfectly! Great minds think alike and all that though... thanks for sending them to Alphabakes.

  7. These look lovely, I think I have this recipe bookmarked in Edd Kimber's baking book. Hope you're settling into your new home :)

  8. These sound amazing! They look lovely too.

  9. This is delicious!! Thanks for sharing.

  10. They look amazing, have always wanted to have a go at these but never have. x

  11. Oh, I also made them a few weeks ago and I've also used them for Alphabakes this month. This Edd Kimber's recipe is delicious.

  12. You've got lovely clean layers there - looks heavenly!

  13. How have I never heard of these before? They sound like a genius idea - thank you!

  14. Yum! Yours look great Laura, I can't believe you went to Nanaimo but never tried the bar!! Visiting Nanaimo is on my to do list because they have a 'nanaimo bar crawl' with about 10 places on the list where you can try peanut butter variations, nanaimo bar ice cream, cupcakes, whoopies - you name it! I'm very excited for when we can go! All I need now is some time off from work so we can plan the trip!

  15. Gem, my visit to Nanaimo was quite a long time ago, don't think I'd even heard of them then! May be back next summer though so I'll have to visit again then! Would be interested to hear about your visit if you make it to Nanaimo! :-)

  16. Ohhh! One of my favourite no-bakes bakes! Aren't these just utterly, well, fab?!

  17. I have always wanted to make these - how great do they look. My mouth is watering right now!


Your comments are greatly appreciated!