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New Find: Nanaimo Bars

New food discovery, the chocolatey and yummy original Canadian dessert Nanaimo bar.

I’ve been living in Canada for two years now but this is my first time to taste this classic Canadian dessert called Nanaimo bars. I picked up a pack at the grocery and I must say that it is good. It has a thick chocolate layer on top, custard in the middle and a coconut , nutty base. This is good for those times that you’re craving for something sweet but it’s a little too sweet for my taste. That’s why I will make a less sweet version of this on my next free day. I also plan to make a batch using low calorie sugar to see if it tastes as good. Watch out for that!

The Nanaimo bar consists of three layers: a wafer, nut (walnuts, almonds, or pecans), and coconut crumb base; custard icing in the middle; and a layer of chocolate ganache on top. The custard icing filling is traditionally made using Bird’s Custard Powder. Many varieties exist, consisting of different types of crumb, different flavours of icing (such as mint, peanut butter, coconut, mocha), and different types of chocolate.

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So if you happen to come to Canada or if you see a dessert looking like this three-layer chocolate goodness at the bakeshop.. you might be tasting that original Canadian dessert known as the Nanaimo bar.

New Find: Nanaimo Bars

History of Nanaimo bars  (compliments to Wikipedia)

The earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe using the name “Nanaimo bars” appears in the Edith Adams’ prize cookbook (14th edition) from 1953. However, following research into the origins of Nanaimo bars, Lenore Newman writes that the same recipe was published in the Vancouver Sun earlier that same year under the name “London Fog Bar”. The recipe later also appears in the publication His/Her Favourite Recipes, Compiled by the Women’s Association of the Brechin United Church (1957), with the recipe submitted by Joy Wilgress, a Baltimore, Maryland, native.(Brechin United Church is in Nanaimo.)

In 1954, the recipe “Mabel’s Squares” was published in The Country Woman’s Favourite by the Upper Gloucester Women’s Institute (New Brunswick). The recipe was submitted by Mrs. Harold Payne, the daughter of Mabel (Knowles) Scott (1883–1957).

The first printing of recipes featuring Nanaimo bar ingredients is found in the 1952 Women’s Auxiliary to the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook, which features three nearly identical recipes that differ only slightly from the modern Nanaimo bar. They are referred to as the “chocolate square” or the “chocolate slice”.

Other unconfirmed references date the bar back to the 1930s, when it was said to be known locally as “chocolate fridge cake”. One modern reference even mentions the bars’ existence in nineteenth-century Nanaimo.


For other food discoveries, easy recipes and old favorites, check out my post on Foodie. 

Happy Eating! Happy Cooking!



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