Nanaimo Bar Cookies

I’m so getting into the idea of cookie swapping this year, even though it’s going to look completely different than years before- but I love that we’re all so focused on figuring out creative ways to share, and to do the things we love, and to connect with people we love. And of course we’re all baking more than ever.

I’m always up for an excuse to bake (pandemic or not), so this year I’m taking part in Redpath’s Share the Sweetness Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap. Looking through their recipe database, I came across one for Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies and couldn’t not make them. They have all the right flavours of a Nanaimo bar, only in cookie form-and they may be less intimidating, and perhaps more shareable as a cookie vs a bar. (At least you don’t have to worry about cutting these cleanly.)


These are SO GOOD. They spread a bit more than the average thumbprint cookie, but the baked cookies are so moist and delicious, I wouldn’t change them. If you want them to hold their shape a bit better, I’d dial the butter back to 1/2 cup, and I imagine it won’t change the flavour and texture much. Once baked, the indents in mine were subtle, but that’s totally OK- the frosting is thick enough to pipe or spread overtop, then drizzle with melted chocolate. (Though they dipped theirs, which you could do too.) And here’s a how-to video I shot in my parents’ kitchen! What are you baking for the holidays??

Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies

AuthorJulie

Cookie dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup graham crumbs
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
Filling:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups Redpath® Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Bird’s Custard Powder
1-2 Tbsp cream (whipping or half and half)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Drizzle:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp butter

1

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham crumbs, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

2

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. On low speed or using a spatula, stir in the dry ingredients, along with the coconut and walnuts.

3

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place a couple inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly and use your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon to create an indentation about half an inch in diameter.

4

Bake for 14 minutes, until just set. Remove and use the back of a small spoon to gently reform the indentations. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

5

To make the filling, beat the butter, icing sugar, custard powder, cream, vanilla and salt until smooth and fluffy, adding a bit more cream or icing sugar as needed to create a spreadable frosting. Place the filling in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, or in a zip-lock bag; seal and and cut off one corner.

6

Pipe some frosting into each cooled cookie. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate to coat, or drizzle them with a fork. Set back on the cooled baking sheets and let them set. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

Cookie dough:
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 cup graham crumbs
 1/4 cup cocoa
 1 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp salt
 2/3 cup butter, softened
 3/4 cup Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar, packed
 1 large egg
 1 tsp vanilla
 3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
Filling:
 1/3 cup butter, softened
 1 1/4 cups Redpath® Icing Sugar
 2 Tbsp Bird’s Custard Powder
 1-2 Tbsp cream (whipping or half and half)
 1/2 tsp vanilla
 1/4 tsp salt
Drizzle:
 1 cup chocolate chips
 1 Tbsp butter

Directions

1

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham crumbs, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

2

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. On low speed or using a spatula, stir in the dry ingredients, along with the coconut and walnuts.

3

Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place a couple inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly and use your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon to create an indentation about half an inch in diameter.

4

Bake for 14 minutes, until just set. Remove and use the back of a small spoon to gently reform the indentations. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

5

To make the filling, beat the butter, icing sugar, custard powder, cream, vanilla and salt until smooth and fluffy, adding a bit more cream or icing sugar as needed to create a spreadable frosting. Place the filling in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, or in a zip-lock bag; seal and and cut off one corner.

6

Pipe some frosting into each cooled cookie. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate to coat, or drizzle them with a fork. Set back on the cooled baking sheets and let them set. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies
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About Julie

30 comments on “Nanaimo Bar Cookies

  1. Liz
    November 20, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Nothing beats the real thing, though, you are right that it does take patience to get the cutting right. If patience is the only ingredient not available then make the cookies. These look too yummy to pass up for seconds.

  2. Stephanie
    November 20, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Can these be frozen?

  3. Sarah
    November 21, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    What can we replace the chopped nuts with if allergic?

    • Julie
      November 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm

      Just leave them out!

  4. Amy
    November 22, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I can’t wait to make these. Which brand of cocoa do you use?

  5. Alicen
    November 23, 2020 at 5:44 am

    I saw this recipe Friday and picked up the ingredients I didn’t already have at home that same day! Then came the busy weekend and I haven’t made them yet… perhaps tonight 🙂

  6. friv
    November 27, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    I can’t wait to do these. The look looks great and tasty. I hope I can make it delicious like you.

  7. Amanda
    November 28, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Great recipe! My kids and I made these today and they were delicious. They do taste like Nanaimo bars which means I don’t have to make them! The only issue we had was with the chocolate drizzle. It was too thick to drizzle when melted. What would you suggest for next time?

    • Ann
      November 28, 2020 at 7:40 pm

      More butter.

    • Julie
      December 1, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Just add a bit more fat (butter or shortening), and keep the heat gentle.. if it seizes up it can thicken!

  8. Andy
    November 30, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    How many cookies do you get from the ingredient amounts from the recipe above?

    • Julie
      December 1, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      About 1 1/2 dozen?

  9. Patti Howlett
    December 2, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    Just ate one of these made by my niece. Delicious! Making some tomorrow!
    Thank you Julie!

  10. Patti
    December 2, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Just ate one of these made by my niece. Delicious! Making some tomorrow!
    Thank you Julie!

    • Julie
      December 3, 2020 at 7:24 am

      Oh yay! They’ve definitely become one of my favourites!

  11. Diana Reed
    December 10, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Do you have any suggestions for a batch of these that spread all over while baking.?

    • Julie
      December 11, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Interesting! it could be that the measurements were off – too much butter, perhaps? or your oven could be too cool and the dough is spreading before it has a chance to set. If they’re just spreading too much, try chilling the dough and/or increasing your oven temp by 25 degrees. If they’re really like puddles, it sounds as if one of your measurements might be off.

    • Julie
      December 14, 2020 at 10:20 am

      Interesting! it sounds like one of the measurements might have been off – too much butter, perhaps? or your oven could be too cool… if so, your cookie dough will melt and spread before it has a chance to set. This is pretty sturdy dough though, so I suspect something went awry with the measurements!

      • Julia
        December 16, 2020 at 8:00 pm

        Or perhaps they were baked on a silicone (non-stick) baking sheet. I find that makes cookies spread more than if I bake them on parchment paper.

  12. Nikki
    December 11, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    Hi! Can you substitute something for the custard powder? It’s a big jar and I don’t ever use it.

    • Julie
      December 14, 2020 at 10:19 am

      You could just leave it out! some people use powdered vanilla pudding mix, but I wouldn’t bother.. just flavour it with vanilla!

  13. Leslee Cotterell-Barrow
    December 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

    I am a Canadian who lives in the States and try to carry on some of my Canadian heritage. Didn’t think I could bake these, because I didn’t think I had custard powder. But, Lo and Behold there it was in my cupboard!!!! These are getting baked as soon as I print out the recipe. Will let you know how it goes. Merry Christmas!

  14. Louise Marsh
    December 13, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Made these cookies last week. They are Amazing! My husband’s new favorite!

    • Julie
      December 14, 2020 at 10:17 am

      Oh yay!!

    • Julie
      December 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Oh yay I’m so glad! they’re my new favourite too!

  15. Susan
    December 19, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    My mom always makes Nanaimo bars for Christmas, but this year we are all staying home because of COVID, so I decided to make these instead of the actual bars. I made them a bit smaller and ended up with 32 cookies, so I can package half up and drop them off at Mom’s door.

  16. Taylor
    January 27, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    These cookies look so delcious!!

  17. Gillian
    April 9, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    I made these and they are amazing! I used three egg yolks instead of one egg (leftovers from also making pavlova) and they didn’t spread at all.

    So delicious! Love your recipes 🙂

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