Nanaimo Bars

Whether you’re curling up in front of the fire or singing Christmas carols out of tune, nothing rings in the winter holidays quite like Nanaimo Bars.

As a child, the anticipation of this decadent winter treat was almost as fun as the anticipation of Santa himself. Almost. I was secretly jealous when, every year, we set out a plate of cookies for Santa, and on that plate were some Nanaimo Bars.

Of course, Santa ate them, and I woke up slightly disappointed that there were none left for me. One year he only took a few bites and left a note saying he had a “full belly” from the cookies from other little boys and girls. I was overjoyed.

Nanaimo Bars hail from the city of Nanaimo, B.C, a harbor city on the coast of Vancouver Island. After spending a few years living on Vancouver Island as a kid, these bars remain close to my heart.

The traditional Nanaimo Bar is quite sweet, the base layer being a chocolatey-coconut biscuit, the center layer a sweet, buttery custard, and the top, a smooth layer of chocolate that cracks at the bite of your teeth.

I wanted to create a version that was a little on the lighter side, vegan, and easy to throw together. Three-layer bars can be a bit of a hassle in the kitchen sometimes, and no one wants hassle when the Christmas Craziness sets in.

My Nanaimo Bars are mostly nuts and chocolate, really. The crust is quite similar to my tartlet crust, with a little chocolate thrown in.

The center is simple cashew cream, keeping the bars vegan and avoiding the sickly-sweetness that often arises in Nanaimo Bars. If you have yet to try cashew cream, now’s your chance. All it takes is some pre-soaked cashews and a food processor to oh-so-creamy goodness.

The top layer is simply melted chocolate with a bit of coconut oil, and there you have it. Three-layer, easy, no-bake Nanaimo Bars.

They store very well in the fridge, lasting for at least a week but likely more. They can be frozen as well, so if you want a jump start on your holiday baking, this recipe is the perfect one, to begin with.

Enjoy these Nanaimo Bars with a little piece of my heart alongside them. They’re made with love.

Nanaimo Bars

Author: PaletteDining
Prep time: 45 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: one 8×8 pan, about 16 bars


  • [i]Base Layer[/i]
  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1 and ½ cups pitted dates
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • [i]Middle Layer[/i]
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • [i]Top Layer[/i]
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil


  1. Place the almonds and the cashews in two separate bowls. Cover with water and soak overnight in the fridge.
  2. Rinse, drain, and pat dry the almonds and cashews.
  3. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. In a food processor, add all the base layer ingredients. Process until well combined and sticky. Press into the bottom of the baking pan.
  5. Rinse out the food processor, and add all the middle layer ingredients. Process until smooth. Spread over the base layer. Place the pan in the fridge to firm up the bars.
  6. In a small saucepan, add the top layer ingredients. Heat over low, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Spread over the middle layer of the bars.
  7. Refrigerate the bars until firmed and the chocolate has hardened (about 20 minutes).
  8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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