Recipe: Nanaimo Bars

The classic Nanaimo bar, a Canadian favorite.

As many of you already know, the International Taoist Tai Chi Society put out a 40th anniversary international cookbook last year, representing the global reach and flavors of the Society. Branches can still place orders for books by emailing the Etobicoke location of the Toronto branch, which put the book together. (The cookbooks cost $20 CDN each.) This is one of the many recipes submitted by Society members.

Nanaimo Bars

Sweet, no-bake Nanaimo bars originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, where the recipe became popular in community cookbooks and at fundraising bake sales during the 1950s. Today you can find them across North America. This recipe was submitted to the cookbook by Sara Frisch of Nanaimo.

Makes about 2 dozen bars

For the bottom layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 3/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs (from about 28 crackers)

1/2 cup finely shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (or granola or other seeds)

For the middle layer:

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered icing (aka confectioner’s) sugar or 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

For the top layer:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To prepare the bottom layer, in a saucepan melt the butter, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla over medium heat. Add the egg and cook until thickened but not curdled. Add the Graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts and pat into an 8″ by 8″ square pan. Cool. To prepare the middle layer, combine the cream with the custard powder until smooth. Beat the butter, icing sugar, and cream mixture until light and fluffy. Spread this over the bottom layer and refrigerate to chill. To prepare the top layer, melt the chocolate and butter together over low hear. Cool and spread over the custard layer of the bars. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours, then cut into bars.


Filed under 40th Anniversary, Cultural Exchange

6 responses to “Recipe: Nanaimo Bars

  1. Bob

    Why are you publishing grossly unhealthful recipes? Please stop this. There are some of us who are concerned about our health. Apparently you are not. This is contrary to what TC means to me. There are enough obese persons, diabetics and cardiac victims in this world. We don’t need your encouraging more of us to join them.

    Very disappointed,

    • Liz Litts

      Hey, Bob–the recipe can be ‘tweeked”
      Try using some lowfat cream cheese, egg whites, heavy cream can be replaced with a low fat subsitute, I am a diabetic too and I have learned to find my way around things. Experment –and remember this is a treat!
      Give yourself one now and then!

  2. Liz Litts

    This sounds very yummy. I am diabetic so I will have to ‘tweek’ with this a bit, but I look forward to making this treat!

    • Elisabeth Rigault

      Liz made a very reasonnable suggestion: indeed every recipe perceived as unhealthy on this planet can be tweeked into an healthy version.
      As the saying goes: it does not matter what you eat, what matters is what’s eating you up!

  3. How many free Nanaimo Bars does one get with each order placed for the cookbook?????

  4. jack gilman

    Don’t you just love all those recipes from the 50’s calling for lots of butter, heavy cream, eggs, etc… Funny, I don’t remember nationwide problems with high-fat diets at that time. But today, with all the attention on low-fat diets, perhaps we are missing the real difference. I recall running and walking more during those days, not sitting infront of a computer or TV for hours. Thanks for the recipe – and the suggestions. And yes – I will have to devote several more hours to my Tai Chi to work off those treats!!

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