Nanaimo Bars: Canada 150 Month (#1)

Nanaimo Bars: Canada 150 Month (#1)

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For the information of those of you not in Canada, 2017 marks Canada’s sesquicentennial – or its 150th anniversary of Confederation. We celebrate Canada Day on July 1 every year. Because this year is the 150th, it’s a big year in Canada and we Canadians like any excuse to party! In honour of this milestone year, I am going to use the month of July to feature a few of my favourite recipes that I think represent different aspects of Canadiana. Stay tuned each week for a new recipe honouring our 150 years of Confederation.

For the first week of July, I have decided to kick off my Happy Canada Day month with a quintessential Canadian treat. No, not poutine (yet). Instead I’m going with our own homegrown Nanaimo Bars! This sweet treat is named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia. Its history is murky at best, so knowing exactly when it was established and where is hard to pinpoint, but the fact is – we do know that this is a treat of Canadian origin.

Nanaimo Bars stacked with Canadian flag and text

If you’ve never had a Nanaimo Bar, you’re missing out! It is a sweet no-bake layered slice with a chocolaty, coconutty, nutty base. The middle layer is a custard-flavoured buttercream. The top is a thin layer of crisp dark chocolate. So decadent, so good…

Layers of deliciousness
                                                           Just look at those layers… yum!!

There are as many versions of Nanaimo Bars as there are bakers because many people take liberties with the flavours of the buttercream and base layers. I’ve seen mint, mocha, butterscotch, Irish cream, and peanut butter. This recipe is the traditional, the classic, the best Nanaimo Bar recipe. 

These keep best when stored in the fridge because the layers soften up quite a lot. I found that freezing the pan for an hour before slicing helped to minimize cracking the top chocolate layer – although as you can see from my pictures, mine weren’t flawless. This is the benefit of being a home-cook – my stuff doesn’t have to look perfect 😉 

Wherever you are, have a fantastic Canada Day as we look forward to the next 150 years – may they be even better!

Vegan Nanaimo Bars

This no-bake square is perfect for a summery dessert because it doesn't heat up the house - but it is also decadent enough to adorn your Christmas baking platter as well!


For the Base Layer

  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan graham crumbs or other cookie crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the Custard Buttercream

  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine or butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 2 tbsp plant milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

For the Chocolate topping layer

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips melted
  • 1/2 tbsp vegan butter/margarine


  • First, prepare the base to allow it time to chill a bit.


  • In a small bowl, mix the water and the flax and set aside for a few minutes and it will become thickened, like an egg.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, and cocoa until all melted and smooth.
  • Stir in the flax mixture and the vanilla
  • Add in the graham crumbs, coconut, and pecans. If not thick enough, add up to a half cup more graham crumbs.
  • Press into the bottom of a parchment lined 8x8 pan.
  • Chill about 30 minutes or until somewhat set.


  • While the crust is in the fridge, stir the milk, custard powder and vanilla together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream the 1/4 cup butter and icing sugar together.
  • Add in the milk mixture and the pinch of salt and beat together until well mixed.
  • Spread this mixture over the crust.
  • Return to the fridge to chill for an hour.


  • Melt the chocolate and butter together.
  • Gently spread this mixture in a thin layer over the set custard mixture. There may be more than enough chocolate for this. This can be a bit tricky as the warm chocolate can melt the buttercream.
  • Chill or freeze the completed pan until firm and set.
  • Cut into small squares and ENJOY!! 🙂

If you make this recipe, please rate/comment below!  Thanks 🙂 

Be sure to check out all my Canada 150 recipes:

Canada 150 #1 Canada 150 #2 Canada 150 #3 Canada 150 #4

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