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Nanaimo Bar Cake

Friends!! Here it is – the Nanaimo Bar Cake. I’ve been thinking about it ever since discovering Deirdre’s epic multi-tiered creation at Sweet Relief Bakery in Calgary (I put it on the 25 Best Things to Eat list in Avenue Magazine back in 2020!) and finally decided to attempt a more streamlined version at home. It turned out wonderfully-I love cakes this size, and recipes that make two, so you can give one away or tuck it into the freezer for another day. These will freeze beautifully. Enjoy!!

AuthorJulie

Yields16 Servings

Base:
 1/2 cup butter, melted
 1/3 cup cocoa
 1/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
 1 large egg or 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
 1 cup shredded coconut
 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
Cake:
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 cup sugar
 1/3 cup cocoa
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp fine salt
 1 cup warm water or coffee
 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
 1 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
 1 tsp vanilla
Frosting:
 1 cup butter, softened
 1/4 cup custard powder (such as Bird’s)
 4 cups icing sugar, plus extra
 1/4-1/3 cup cream or coconut milk
Ganache:
 1 1/3 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips (8 oz/225 g)
 1 cup whipping cream or coconut milk

1

Preheat the oven to 350F and line two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment.

2

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, cocoa, sugar and egg. Stir in the graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Divide the mixture between the pans and press evenly into the bottom. (I find this easier with dampened hands.)

3

In the same bowl (no need to wash it) whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or measuring cup, stir together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until well blended. Divide between the pans, pouring over the Nanaimo bar base.

4

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until puffed, cracked and springy to the touch. Cool completely while you make the frosting.

5

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add the custard powder, sugar and 1/4 cup of the cream and beat until you have a fluffy frosting, adding a bit more cream (or even a tablespoon of water) if needed. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread with the frosting and put into the fridge until it firms up a bit.

6

To make the ganache, put the chocolate into a bowl, warm the cream to steaming on the stovetop or in the microwave and pour it over the chocolate, and let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk until well blended and smooth—it will appear broken at first, but then will turn darker and have a smoother, more even consistency. Set aside for 20-30 minutes, so that it firms a bit and isn’t so warm that it will melt the frosting, then pour or spread over each cake. Let sit until the ganache sets. Makes 2 cakes; serves about 16.

Category,

Ingredients

Base:
 1/2 cup butter, melted
 1/3 cup cocoa
 1/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
 1 large egg or 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
 1 cup shredded coconut
 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
Cake:
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 cup sugar
 1/3 cup cocoa
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp fine salt
 1 cup warm water or coffee
 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
 1 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
 1 tsp vanilla
Frosting:
 1 cup butter, softened
 1/4 cup custard powder (such as Bird’s)
 4 cups icing sugar, plus extra
 1/4-1/3 cup cream or coconut milk
Ganache:
 1 1/3 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips (8 oz/225 g)
 1 cup whipping cream or coconut milk

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 350F and line two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment.

2

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, cocoa, sugar and egg. Stir in the graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Divide the mixture between the pans and press evenly into the bottom. (I find this easier with dampened hands.)

3

In the same bowl (no need to wash it) whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or measuring cup, stir together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until well blended. Divide between the pans, pouring over the Nanaimo bar base.

4

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until puffed, cracked and springy to the touch. Cool completely while you make the frosting.

5

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add the custard powder, sugar and 1/4 cup of the cream and beat until you have a fluffy frosting, adding a bit more cream (or even a tablespoon of water) if needed. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread with the frosting and put into the fridge until it firms up a bit.

6

To make the ganache, put the chocolate into a bowl, warm the cream to steaming on the stovetop or in the microwave and pour it over the chocolate, and let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk until well blended and smooth—it will appear broken at first, but then will turn darker and have a smoother, more even consistency. Set aside for 20-30 minutes, so that it firms a bit and isn’t so warm that it will melt the frosting, then pour or spread over each cake. Let sit until the ganache sets. Makes 2 cakes; serves about 16.

Nanaimo Bar Cake
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36 comments on “Nanaimo Bar Cake

  1. Christian Farrier
    October 19, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    The vinegar appears twice in the ingredient list
    Can’t wait to try this one out! Looks awesome!

    • Julie
      October 19, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      oops, thank you!!

  2. Claire
    October 19, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    This looks amazing! I loved Nanaimo bars before I developed a nut allergy. Suggestions for a sub for the 1/2 cup of nuts in the base? Sunflower seeds? Another 1/2 cup of coconut?

  3. Lindsey
    October 26, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    I made this for a friends birthday on Monday and my life will never be the same. It’s absolutely delicious!!! And it made two so she had a whole other cake to take home with her! Amazing! Thank you and keep the deliciousness comin’!!!! ?

    • Julie
      November 3, 2022 at 10:41 pm

      Yay!! Amazing!!

  4. Anonymous
    October 26, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    How do you get them out of the pans lol

    • Anonymous
      October 31, 2022 at 6:34 am

      Life them out using the parchment paper overhang.

  5. Elizabeth
    October 28, 2022 at 1:04 am

    Please, do you take them out of the pans after the cake is baked, or do you use a rectangular spring form pan that is removed after the ganache is set?

    • Julie
      November 3, 2022 at 10:40 pm

      Take the cake out of the pan after it’s baked! it’s just a regular loaf pan.

  6. auratkachakkar
    November 3, 2022 at 7:23 am

    I made this for a friends birthday on Monday and my life will never be the same.

  7. Agatha
    November 11, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    Hello, very fun making this cake. Should the cake be refrigerated after? Thanks so much.

  8. Nicolle
    November 22, 2022 at 12:07 am

    Hi Julie! I made this beautiful piece of art yesterday and brought it to my mom’s for Sunday dinner’s dessert. Everyone loved it, it really was so delicious and a bit hit! The only unfortunate trouble was, the bottom layer was hard as a rock. I was so sad! Trust me, it didn’t keep any of us from eating it and only slowed us down the smallest bit with some extra fork work! Haha! But can you think of what I might have done wrong? The cake portion came out fine and moist, normal crumb so I don’t think I over baked it but I’m a little confused why it would have been such a tough bottom layer. Thank you in advance for any advice or tips you might have!

    • L Moore.Cook
      December 20, 2022 at 8:49 pm

      With regular Nanaimo bars – you need be careful not to make the graham crumbs too fine, or pack the base down too hard. Might be the similar thing here.

  9. mobdro 2022
    December 17, 2022 at 8:36 am

    I’ve been thinking about it ever since discovering Deirdre’s epic multi-tiered creation at Sweet Relief Bakery in Calgary

    mobdro 2022

  10. Deanna
    December 31, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Just a minor suggestion…. I found the custard layer needed a little salt and was drastically improved with some vanilla extract. Bottom 2 layers are cooling as we speak.

    • Julie
      January 11, 2023 at 6:59 pm

      Oh thank you! did you use unsalted butter? I use salted..

  11. Susan
    January 28, 2023 at 6:54 am

    Do you think I could freeze the base and cake layer without the frosting and ganache?

    • Julie
      January 31, 2023 at 8:36 pm

      Yes definitely!

  12. Krista
    February 3, 2023 at 9:43 am

    I’m excited to try this….just wondering why there is no egg in the cake layer. ..

  13. Jackie Bernard
    April 27, 2023 at 10:37 am

    Hello! Is the shredded coconut sweetened or unsweetened? TIA 🙂

  14. F M D
    June 7, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Thankyou for the recipe Julie, this should fix my marriage! My husband loves nanaimo bars.

  15. Jackie Simpson
    August 18, 2023 at 12:38 am

    I’m just about to make this for the 1st time. Yum! Can the 2nd one be frozen with the frosting & ganache on?

  16. Caylakling
    November 16, 2023 at 1:04 am

    I included it in Avenue Magazine’s list of the Donkey Kongbest dishes.

  17. Milie
    November 17, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    I waited over 24 hours for the ganache to set and it is still runny

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  19. Heidi Kostrey
    December 23, 2023 at 8:24 pm

    So freaking delicious. This is my second time making these – they’re becoming a Christmas tradition, as I made them last year at Christmas too! They are actually pretty easy to make, but impressive to guests!

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