Nanaimo bars

Nanaimo Bars

Since we had a Bank Holiday and I had an extra day I thought it would be the perfect time to squeeze in some quality baking time. I’d lined up loads of amazing treats to make from various food blogs over the weekend. Then we had a BBQ party on Sunday (which by the way I had to make the pavlova twice! Still have NOT got a hang of pavlova) and I was feeling pretty hungover on Monday. I lay on the sofa watching repeats of Only Fools and Horses on G.O.L.D and trying to recover. Time ticks away, it’s 3pm, the shops are only open for another hour. Must. Get. Fat. Ass. Off. Sofa. I go, I remember to take the reusable bags (plus point), I return with all the right baking ingredients (double plus point).

I started trying some new cupcake ideas with some roll out icing. My nails are too long for this. I search the cupboard. Royal icing time. There’s about 200g left. I hedge my bets, wash out the KitchenAid bowl. I pour too much water in apparently despite calculating how much water I’d need. Attempt three: Buttercream time. The consistency is right. I start to pipe. It doesn’t stick on the sides of the cupcake like I want. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. The cupcakes are abandoned. I go and eat Thai food and feel a lot better. I took them into work today and labelled them “disaster cupcakes” and they disappear from the kitchen within half an hour!

The other recipe I had planned for the Bank Holiday weekend was Nanaimo bars. I tried them when I took a trip recently to Out of the woods cafe and I tried some of the delicious Nanaimo bars made by Fayre by Alley. I needed these things in my life.

Becs and Kim

This is me and my friend Kim. Kim is this amazing chick who enjoys dim sum about as much as I do. We have loads of food fun when we see each other (even though she’s daaan saaarf). Kim is also Canadian or Can-asian as I like to say. Since we have been friends for like 4 years, she has neglected to tell me about Nanaimo Bars. Kim is mean.

Anyway, I decided to make my own Nanaimo bars. I’ve got a new twitter friend, Alex who has a recipe for Nanaimo bars on alex bakes. I used her base recipe, but I made my own custard and changes the amount of chocolate on the top. Thanks to the feedback on this post, the real custard makes this non-traditional (and also because it’s runny too!) so I guess this is the Lay the table take on Nanaimo bars.

Nanaimo bar base

The recipe is pretty easy, stir all the base bits together: cocoa powder, coconut and digestive biscuits with butter.

Clarence Court eggs

Check out how orange the yolks are on these Clarence Court Cotswold Legbar Eggs (the blue shelled ones) I used for the custard! I was quite impressed with my custard making skillz!

Custard on base of Nanaimo bar

Custard made, smooth it on top! Then add your chocolate…and try not to lick too much off the spoon.


For the base

Base recipe from alex bakes

  • 200g digestive biscuits, blitzed in the food processor to make crumbs
  • 100g butter
  • 75g desicated coconut
  • 50g sugar/li>
  • 5tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 egg

For the custard

  • 120ml milk
  • 1½tbsp cornflour
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 egg yolks

For the chocolate topping

  • 100g high quality dark chocolate (I used 72% cocoa solids)
  • 55g butter


  1. Line a dish approx 26cm x 17cm with foil (saves on tough washing up) and grease lightly.
  2. Make the base: Melt the butter and with the sugar and and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Whisk the egg and add to the saucepan along with the coconut and digestive biscuit crumbs. Stir well. Press base firmly into dish.
  3. To make the egg custard: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the cornflour, vanilla bean paste and sugar, stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken. Leave to cool for a minute or so, stirring to cool the mixture.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, place the egg yolks and whisk a little. Pour half the milk mixture from a height into the egg yolks, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs coagulating.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and place back over the heat (low). Stirring constantly, cook for the next 5 minutes. Do not let it go lumpy! Spread over the biscuit base in the dish.
  6. To make the chocolate topping: Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water until melted together. Once fully melted, leave for a few minutes to cool. Then spread on the top gently on top of custard, making sure you get to the edges.
  7. Once it’s nearly cool, cover it in cling film and stick it in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  8. To serve, slice into small squares.


  1. nanaimobarlover says

    Nanaimo bars are my favorite.  However, if you want to try a recipe that is the closest to what a real Nanaimo bar is supposed to taste like,
    almost like the store bought kind in Canada.  Yum!  I use walnuts instead of almonds (most store bought ones use walnuts), double the topping, and maybe increase the graham wafer crumbs to 1 1/2 cups..

  2. A Canuck says

    It looks interesting with real custard, but nanaimo bars don’t really have real custard. You whip in a small amount of vanilla custard powder into the butter, and then call it custard to avoid acknowledging how much butter you eat with each piece of bar :) It’s what makes them great.

  3. says

    Thanks for the mention! I’m rather pleased that my Nanaimo Bars have taken off in Leeds.  My recipe is a bit different but it is indeed from Nanaimo, B.C.  (My Uncle and family who live there wouldn’t approve otherwise!)  The fun part of my business is to create interesting flavours and combos as I’ve always done with food. Out of the Woods and Cafe 164 have been fabulous in trying almost all flavours. Keep the ideas coming…and check out my website for up and coming new treats!

  4. Katie says

    These are immense, I have a Canadian friend who is an amazing baker (she works at Betty’s!) and I tried some that she made. Had never heard of them until she made them and now they are everywhere! 

  5. miss south says

    These look amazing. Back in Northern Ireland, we’ve built an entire cuisine around crushing up digestive biscuits and adding either chocolate or butter and bunging in some dessicated coconut. But never adding custard. I cannot wait to show this Canadian treat off back home!

  6. says

    God I love nanaimo bars! I just had nanaimo bar ice cream yesterday. It was a custard ice cream with chunks of chocolate and cookies. Yay for canadian treats. 


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