Nanaimo bars

This sweet treat is one of the many reasons tourists visit the beautiful city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. Although it looks sophisticated, this classic 3-layer dessert requires no baking.

Skill level
Cooking time
60 minutes
8 to 10 servings
Bottom layer

½ cup (125 g) unsalted butter 

¼ cup (50 g) sugar

5 tbsp (75 ml) cocoa

1 egg, beaten

2 cups (415 g) graham wafer crumbs

1 cup (250 g) coconut flakes

½ cup (125 g) finely chopped almonds


Middle layer

½ cup (125 g) unsalted butter

2 tbsp (30 ml) cream

2 tbsp (30 g) vanilla custard powder

2 cups (500 g) icing sugar


Top layer

4 tbsp (60 g) semi-sweet chocolate

2 tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter

Bottom layer

1. Melt first 3 ingredients in top of a double boiler and mix well. Add egg and stir to thicken.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and almonds.

3. Press firmly into an ungreased 8-inch x 8-inch (20 cm x 20 cm) pan.


Middle layer

4. Combine butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar. Beat until light and smooth.

5. Spread over the bottom layer.


Top layer

6. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stir and allow to cool down. 

7. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator.

Chef’s Tips

To slice the bars neatly, wait until the top layer has mostly hardened. Gently trace the lines where you’ll cut the bars. Bring to room temperature and slice using a thin, sharp knife.