Nanaimo Bar: The tastiest recipe for a popular Canadian dessert

The Nanaimo Bar is one of Canada’s most famous desserts. The first mention of the recipe is found in the 1952 Nanaimo Hospital cookbook. called the chocolate square. A year later, a similar recipe was published in Edith Adams’ Vancouver Cookbook, this time as the Nanaimo Bar.

Nanaimo bar with peanut butter
Traditional Nanaimo Bar

I was lucky enough to visit the home of this culinary masterpiece and taste all kinds of variations of it: in the form of macaroons, with tea/mint/berry filling, and even with bacon! If you ever find yourself in Nanaimo, look for the tastiest Canadian pastries at the bakery Hearthstone Artisan Bakery (Peanut Butter Crunch). A complete map of more than 30 cafes in the city that serve nanaimo bars at this link.

The traditional cake recipe contains three layers, mostly butter, sugar, nuts, cookies, and cocoa (I saw the original recipe with my own eyes at the Nanaimo Museum). At home, I make a dessert with peanut butter. I’ll share it with you and the traditional one, and you choose the one you like. You can experiment endlessly with it (add mint, use coconut oil instead of butter, more nuts, etc.)!

Nanaimo bar with peanut butter

20 large cakes 50 minutes

Ingredients

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg (beat it)
  • 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs.
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled almonds

Middle layer:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 30g hazelnuts

Top layer:

  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Cooking

Bottom layer

  1. Melt butter and cocoa in a saucepan. Crack an egg, stir.
  2. Add cracker crumbs, coconut flakes, and almonds to the mixture. Stir until smooth.
  3. Line a 20X20 cm baking tray (or a rectangular tray of the same size) with baking paper.
  4. Spread the butter and cracker mixture evenly on the bottom of the baking tray, pressing and tamping it down. Afterwards, put it in the fridge.

Middle layer

  1. Cream butter and peanut butter with powdered sugar.
  2. Place on the baking tray as the second layer, spread evenly on top of the layer of crackers.
  3. Put some nuts (press a little into the layers)

Top layer

  1. Melt chocolate in a water bath, stir with butter. Cool down a little (but keep it liquid)
  2. Pour over the rest of the layers on the baking tray.
  3. Put the tray in the freezer. The bars will be ready in about 30 minutes. Take out and carefully cut into 20+ pieces. Store in the refrigerator (one week) or freezer (up to one month)

Classic Nanaimo Bar

20 large cakes 50 minutes

Ingredients

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg (beat it)
  • 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs. If unsweetened, add 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled almonds

Middle layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 Tablespoons and 2 Tablespoons of cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar

Top layer:

  • 100g unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Cooking

Bottom layer

  1. Melt butter, cocoa (and sugar if the crackers are unsweetened) in a saucepan. Crack an egg, stir.
  2. Add cracker crumbs, coconut flakes, and almonds to the mixture. Stir until smooth.
  3. Line a 20X20 cm baking tray (or a rectangular tray of the same size) with baking paper.
  4. Spread the butter and cracker mixture evenly on the bottom of the baking tray, pressing and tamping it down. Afterwards, put it in the fridge.

Middle layer

  1. Beat soft butter together with cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until creamy
  2. Place on the baking tray as the second layer, spread evenly on top of the layer of crackers. Put it in the fridge

Top layer

  1. Melt chocolate in a water bath, stir with butter. Cool down a little (but keep it liquid)
  2. Pour over the rest of the layers on the baking tray.
  3. Put the tray in the freezer. The brownie will be ready in about 30 minutes when it hardens. Take out and carefully cut into 20+ cakes. Store in refrigerator (one week) or freezer (up to one month)

Tasty Canada recipe book

In this book you will find recipes for 30 of the most delicious traditional and popular Canadian dishes. As well as some fun historical facts about Canadian food and recommendations of Vancouver cafes/restaurants where to try it.

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