Nanaimo BarsNanaimo Bars. Because Fahim is who he is, he’s calling them NaNoWriMo Bars. But we’ll just ignore him, shall we? 🙂

Nanaimo Bars. Ah, that brings back memories. 🙂 Nanaimo Bars have been a part of my life for a good long time. Since I belong to a family of adamant chocaholics, Nanaimo Bars have taken part in many a Christmas or birthday or, well, other celebrations. Or, really, any other family functions as well. I’ve had Nanaimo bars at work functions, parties, and just about everywhere else, too. Nanaimo Bars can be found at any bakery I’ve been to in Western Canada, including supermarket bakeries and Costco, although Costco’s isn’t by the slice or the 8×8” pan, but rather by a much larger slab.

Legend has it – although why it’s called a legend when we’re talking about a history of only 35 or so years. “Legend” usually connotes histories in the hundreds, if not thousands, of years – that it was invented by a woman who submitted the recipe, named after her town, in a magazine-sponsored contest.

In 1986, the Nanaimo mayor held a contest to see who could come up with the best Nanaimo Bars recipe. I’ve based my recipe on that one, but with some changes due to availability, or lack thereof, of certain ingredients locally.

Nanaimo, if you didn’t know, is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. And Nanaimo Bars are very well known all over Western Canada. Probably the rest of Canada, too, but since I haven’t been there, I can’t say that for a fact. 😉

If you haven’t yet had a Nanaimo Bar, and you love chocolate, you really should. Really. It’s…

You’ve got to try this for yourself.

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer

  • 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (European style cultured)
  • 48 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 35 grams (5 tbsp) cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 112 grams (1 1/4 cups) graham wafer crumbs ginger snap crumbs
  • 43 grams (1/2 cup) finely chopped almonds cashews
  • 76 grams (1 cup) coconut

Melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa in the top of a double boiler.

Add the egg and stir to cook and thicken, then remove from heat.

Add the cookie crumbs, coconut, and nuts and mix thoroughly, then press firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ pan.

Middle Layer

  • 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) cream
  • (2 tbsp) vanilla custard powder
  • 260 grams (2 cups) icing sugar

Cream together the butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar and beat until light. Spread over the bottom layer.

Top Layer

  • 120 grams (4 squares/4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 29 grams (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

Melt and mix together chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool, then pour over second layer and spread. Chill.

You know the usual – I changed the recipe to grams since that’s easier to work with.

Then I substituted for available ingredients. In this recipe, that meant that I used ginger snap cookies in the place of graham wafers since graham wafers don’t exist here. I could have used sugar cookies or any other cookies, but I felt like trying out ginger snaps and seeing how well that worked. I love ginger and chocolate together, so it seems to me like something worth trying. I used cashews for the almonds even though I have almonds at the moment – cashews are significantly cheaper here. And since semi-sweet chocolate also doesn’t exist here, I used milk chocolate couverture (the good stuff, made with cocoa butter, not vegetable fat).

Since I didn’t have any desiccated coconut on hand, I had to shred a coconut and then toast it.

I thought about doubling the chocolate layer (top layer), but then decided not to this time simply because Fahim should try his first Nanaimo Bar au naturel. Or as close to it as I’ll ever get. I can always double the next one. 😀 And then I changed my mind and doubled it anyway. I am nothing if not fickle. 😀

Of course we loved it. I knew we would. Anyone who loves chocolate – and we love chocolate! – will love this.

2 Replies to “Nanaimo Bars”

  1. This was interesting read (did not know where they came from, but yes, I have seen them all over the parts of Canada I have been to) and your variations sound good 🙂

    I like the concept of using the ginger snaps. I too like ginger and chocolate together (I forget the manufactor, but one chocolate company had a delicious dark chocolate bar with ginger (candied?) bits in it – had a few a few christmasses ago – fabbo!)

    1. Ginger with chocolate is just dee-vine! 🙂 I also prefer dark chocolate with ginger over milk – milk just doesn’t have enough punch to pull it off.

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