04 November 2011

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bars are a new concept to me. I have heard them mentioned on other blogs, but didn't know much about them, then I saw them in my copy of Cox Cookies & Cake.

Custard filling, mmmmmmmmmm! I would take these over a cupcakes any day. Although I would change the recipe somewhat. There really wasn't enough custard filling to fill the bars in quite the way they were shown in the cookbook, so I doubled up the custard filling. Next time, I will also use more custard powder and less icing sugar for a more custardy flavour. The colour was there, but the custard flavour was rather lacking.

In case you haven't come across Cox Cookies & Cake, it is the new venture of shoe designer Patrick Cox and master patissier Eric Lanlard. They have a shop in Soho, London selling their wares and this new book to accompany it. None of your delicate petals and pastel shades in this book. It is a full on neon-nightclub of a book and that includes the cakes.

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Nanaino Bars
These custardy slices, which are reputedly the national sweet of Canada are a delight and very moreish. A coconutty biscuit base, topped with a custard icing, then finished of with a layer of chocolate.

Ingredients for the first layer
  • 65g/2½oz sugar
  • 15g/½oz cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125g/4oz digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 65g/2½oz desiccated coconut
  • 65g/2½oz walnuts, finely chopped
  • 125g/4oz unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
Ingredients for the second layer

  • 50g/2oz butter, softened
  • 25g/1oz custard powder
  • 250g icing sugar
  • a little warm water (optional)
  • Ingredients for the third layer

  • 150g/5oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter

  • Instructions
    1. Line a shallow 20cm (8 inch) square baking tray with baking paper.2. To make the first layer: in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the butter. Pour the melted butter over and combine well. Using a spoon, press this into the tin and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.3. To make the second layer: cream the butter with the custard powder, ideally with an electric hand whisk, until fluffy. Then add the icing sugar a little at a time. Add a little warm water if it gets too stiff. Smooth the creamy mixture on top of the biscuit base, and again place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.4. To make the third layer: melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth and glossy, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Let it cool slightly, then pour over the custard layer and smooth with a palette knife. Chill for a further 15 minutes, or until set.5. Take out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow it to soften slightly, then cut into bars with a large sharp knife.
    Total time: Yield: 10 bars

    I am entering my nanaimo bars for this month's Bookmarked Recipes (there is plenty time to add your own bookmarked recipe, just add your recipe to the linky) and for Karen's new challenge Teatime Treats. The theme is ginger and bonfire treats. These would definitely be great for bonfire night and I added a spot of ginger into the base.

    Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


    1. Jacquie. Nanaimo Bars are one of Canada's great food exports...looking fab!

    2. Thanks Peter, excuse the language, but they were a bugger to cut and still look bonnie!

    3. These bars loo amazing Jacquie!! yumm

    4. The Scots must have taken those to Canada, they are so sugar laden, they just have to be a product of some Scottish wifie! Looking so delicious.

    5. These look delicious! I'm not normally a massive custard fan but the three favlours here are making my mouth water :)

    6. They do look amazing - that gooey custardy filling oozing out looks fab. I bet they were worth the effort to cut them neatly - it's so difficult to do with oozy things isn't it!

    7. Thanks Gloria :)

      I see what you mean Janice :)

      I felt the same when I saw them Emmy and they will be even better when I up the custard next time :)

      It is difficult C, you should have seen the ones in the book. Perfect. Huh!

    8. delicious looking bars wonderfully done

    9. These look amazing! My friends have been telling me about the shop in Soho but I've not tried anything from there yet.

    10. I don't think I have ever had them but they sound similar enough to the slices I grew up with for me to just know I would love them - custard and chocolate and coconut ticks all my boxes

    11. Funny to see these in the UK, we had them growing up in Canada and I introduced Adam to them while we were in Victoria Canada, about 1 hour from Nanaimo itself! Traditionally very sweet but very yummy!

      Great photo!


    12. I grew up on these!! a tip for cutting...once the chocolate top layer just starts to set....score across for cutting lines...just down through the chocolate layer...then it wont crack when cutting!!! :) :) :) sometimes my mum uses a bit of mint extract and green food colouring in the custard layer for minty ones! x

    13. Oh, wow - I've seen these (our Canadian friend Sara makes them) but kind of tend to avoid them like I avoid Millionaire bars, because I don't really care for a short crust. These look perfect though - more gooey filling, less crust!

    14. Nanaimo Bars are a Canadian classic invented by a woman from Nanaimo, British Columbia. I like mine less on the sweet side and there are many great variations out there from peanut butter to maple syrup to mint.

    15. Shoes and cakes - could there be a better combination!!!!

      These bars look delicious - I love the fact that the custard part looks slightly soft - I'd imagine they tasted outstanding!

    16. Thanks Akheela :)

      Let me know what you think if you do go Baking Addict :)

      They are rather nice Johanna :)

      Hi Theresa, I only found out it was a place as well as a sweet treat when I was writing up the post. Had a wee keek over at wiki to find out.

      Good tip Victoria, I will do that next time :)

      You could really make them as thin or thick as you like Tanita :)

      Oh now peanut butter sounds good Val :)

      I was lost with your shoe comment for a moment there Brownieville Girl, then I twigged. Doh!

    17. I've just made these this morning! A different recipe but my goodness they are more-ish! I am hurtling head-long into a diabetic coma as we speak...

    18. I've made these once before and they were soooo sweet, I loved them :) Yours look awesome.

    19. What a great entry for Tea Time Treats, and I made some of those a few weeks ago, but an Australian recipe! They look great and I agree with doubling up the custard too.

    20. I had no idea they were well known outside of BC!

    21. I'm not sure I'd say they're exactly "the" Canadian sweet (butter tarts, maple pie, etc.?) but BOY do I love Nanaimo bars! Yours look perfect. (And normally, the filling is more like icing than custard. . . so it sounds like yours were just right). :)

    22. MMMMMMMM,...thee bars look just perfect to enjoy with a good cup of fresh café latte!

      yummie indeed! :)

    23. I have long admired these, but am yet to make them. Yours look great and you can't ever go wrong with custard!

    24. Great minds and all that Kate, I hope you managed to cut yours better than I did. The chocolate split on quite a few of mine.

      Thanks Julie :)

      Thanks Karen, I must remember to email you my entry :)

      I was only vaguely aware of them before now Su-Lin.

      It did taste more like icing Ricki, I will definitely up the custard next time.

      Thanks Sophie :)

      I know CC, I think we are both great fans of custard :)

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    26. Those look delicious. I have that book also, but even though there is some great sounding recipes in there I find the design of the book so off-putting that I have never tried any of them. Seeing your post and pictures has made me change my mind! I think I should give it a chance.

    27. OMG Jac - they look like my kind of sweet treat. Yum. Yum. AND YUM! I've always wanted to make them and now your post is making me kick myself for not having done it sooner.

    28. Wow...it is like a layered jenga game. I'd love that to topple right into my gut.

    29. oh my, I don't think there are words to describe how amazing those look!

    30. I heard so much about this bars, but never had a chance to make them...yours look fabulous Jacqueline!
      Hope you are having a nice week :-)

    31. I wasn't excited by all the recipes Sylvie, but there are a few I want to try.

      They are a great one to share Chele. Go down a treat!

      It does look a bit like a jenga tower TB, hehe :D

      Thanks Nic :)

      Thanks Juliana, hope you have had a good week too :)

    32. Jac, these look fabulous. I've been eying up this recipe in the book as I've never made them, so really glad you tested them first and warned me of the pitfalls ;-) I put a review up on Amazon about the book yesterday.

    33. One of my favorite treats when my sweet tooth kicks in. My friend Andrew can never resist this Canadian treat. I hope you will be able to come up with an Indian dish for my November event.


    34. OMG, these look so GOOD!!!


    35. I have never heard of these before you and Kate made them. They sound great and look yummy!

    36. This is all new to me. They look beautiful and I'm all in for trying them. happy New Year.

    37. these look so good! When I lived in the US 9/10 years ago I saw lots of recipes for these but I've never made them...I will get there one day though as they look lovely!

      1. Thanks Helen, I hadn't tried them before, but I had heard of them. Knew I had to make them when I saw them in the cookbook :)


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