These Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian treat. Delicious, no-bake, super easy to make!
How many times have YOU used your hair dryer in the kitchen? I’m up to twice already. The first time I used it was to save some thawed swiss meringue buttercream that basically looked like cottage cheese soup (lovely, right?). I was this close to tossing it, but was too lazy to make more. Laziness pays off sometimes. Shockingly, heating the bowl of the mixer with a hair dryer did the trick, and the buttercream came back together better than ever.
The second time was with these Nanaimo bars, because I’m a crazy person and my perfectionism gets a little out of hand sometimes.
You see, I didn’t like what the chocolate layer on top looked like. It wasn’t smooth enough for me, but it had already hardened against the chilled custard. I kid you not, I whipped out that hair dryer and melted the chocolate so I could smooth it out. This ended up being pointless, as I decided I wanted a thicker chocolate layer anyway, so I made more and added it over the top (note: the recipe below lists the total amount of chocolate I used). Now, before some of you get all worked up about the “hair dryer in the kitchen” being unsanitary, I can assure you I ate (most of) these on my own – they were too good to give away. Plus my hair dryer is spotless thankyouverymuch.
Nanaimo bars are a Canadian tradition dating back to the 50’s. They’re identified by their signature yellow custard layer, on a chocolate graham cracker/coconut crust, and topped with melted chocolate. Truth is, I never used to like them. I found them chalky, chewy, and kinda bland.
The first time I had a good Nanaimo bar was last year, from this little Italian bakery close to where I live. My friend Karen brought some over one night, so I tried one and actually liked it. Karen assured me that the recipe she used to make them was even better. Well this I needed to try! These are the BEST Nanaimo bars you will ever have. EVER! Plus, no-bake. I mean… come on, that should be a selling point right there.
I think the key with Nanaimo bars is to use fine coconut, not just the shredded kind – make sure it says fine. It really makes the texture better. Oh, and good quality chocolate for the top layer makes a huge difference. I use Callebaut because that’s what is available to me, but you could just as easily use chocolate chips and they would still be delicious!
If you’re a Nanaimo bar hater like I was, give these a try. You won’t regret it!
No-Bake Nanaimo Bars
- 8 oz good quality dark chocolate chopped
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Grease a 9 x 9" pan and line with parchment.
- Place 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 3 Tbsp cocoa powder into a large, heatproof bowl over a pot with simmering water. Whisk until combined.
- Slowly pour in egg while whisking vigorously. Add vanilla. Continue whisking over simmering water until mixture has thickened and resembles a pudding.
- Remove mixture from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs and coconut.
- Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of your 9x9 pan. Press down firmly to pack in. Chill in fridge while making custard.
- Cream together butter and icing sugar, add in custard powder and milk and beat until smooth.**
- Spread evenly over base layer and return to fridge. Chill for 30mins.
- Place chopped chocolate and butter in to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate has melted.
- Spread evenly over custard layer. Chill in fridge until set (approx. 1 hour).
- Cut with a hot serrated knife.
** This can be done by hand but I used my stand mixer.