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nanaimo bars recipe

Celebrate Canadian Wine with Nanaimo Bars

Susan Mendelson, co-founder of The Lazy Gourmet, helped trigger the fame of these no-bake bars, originating in the coastal Vancouver Island town of Nanaimo.  

Mendelson, along with our Director of Wine, is a member of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier.  Together with almost 80 members in the B.C. chapter, they work to help women establish careers in the food, wine and hospitality sectors.  

Mendelson’s recipe celebrates the theme region of the Vancouver International Wine Festival - Canada.  This week, an unprecedented 76 Canadian wineries will collect under one roof to showcase distinctive wines that are turning heads around the world. 

DJ's Wine Pairing

These iconic Canadian dessert bars are crazy-sweet, and so need an equally decadently sweet wine, like this hedonistic Viognier Icewine.


Susan Mendelson’s Nanaimo Bars


Layer 1

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups  graham wafer crumbs
1 cup long-thread coconut
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Layer 2

¼ cup butter, softened
3 tbsp milk
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp custard powder

Layer 3

5 oz semi-sweet chocolate
150 ml butter


  1. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. In a heat-safe bowl, use an electric mixer to mix together butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder from Layer 1. Set bowl over boiling water, creating a bain-marie, and stir until mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Remove bowl from stove and add graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan. Using a spatula, spread mixture evenly to form base layer of the bars. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine ingredients in Layer 2 using a whisk or stand-alone mixer until smooth. Pour into the pan and spread evenly over the base layer.
  5. In a small heat-safe bowl, melt chocolate in bain-marie or on a low setting in the microwave. Stir in butter until combined. Carefully spread over the custard layer.
  6. Refrigerate baking pan until chocolate has hardened. Slice into 20 bars.

Yield: 20 Nanaimo bars.



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