Nanaimo Bars

Each year my sister makes Nanaimo bars for my birthday treat, but this year, she wasn’t around. So, three weeks post-birthday, the craving was becoming pretty unmanageable. I mean, I’ve had Nanaimo bars every year for more than a decade at this time of year. Things were dire. It was time to take action. Not to worry, I have that trusty custard powder in the cupboard for occasions such as this.

But, as I began to research recipes, I started getting a little icky feeling. I’d rather put good butter into cake, not blend it with icing sugar. And I’d have to go buy icing sugar. Which meant I’d have to -walk- to the grocery store. The desire to stuff my face with Nanaimo bars, and the need to walk to the grocery store don’t align. So I kept digging, wondering if others were making Nanaimo bar filling in different ways. And oh boy, did I hit the jackpot.

These Nanaimo bars are nowhere near the butter and icing sugar filled sweets of my youth. Instead of feeling mildly ill after eating one, I can now eat at least three (I’d say the whole pan, but I haven’t yet tested this) in one go! I don’t feel sick, but I do feel satisfied. Let me know what you think if you make them.

The recipe

Nanaimo Bars

Makes: 1 9 inch sq. pan of bars.


1 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup walnut pieces, broken small
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup cacao powder
2 tbsps hemp hearts (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup dry red lentils
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 – 3 tbsps custard powder

300 g dark chocolate
1 tbsp coconut oil


  1. Rinse lentils well. Add lentils to small pot, with one cup of water. Bring it to a boil, then simmer 10-15 minutes, until most water is absorbed and it has a porridge-like texture.
  2. Grease a 9 inch square pan.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients for base. Add in coconut oil slowly, stirring well. If you pick up some of the base and squeeze it together, it shouldn’t crumble. Rather, it should hold together. If required, add additional coconut oil.
  4. Press the base into the pan, packing it down well with your fingers. Refrigerate.
  5. Add the unsweetened shredded coconut to a food processor. Blend at high speed for a minute, or until fine. Add the cooked lentils, maple syrup and coconut oil. Blend 2-3 minutes, until creamy and smooth. Add  2 tbsp custard powder and blend again. Add additional custard powder if you like. I did!
  6. Spread the filling onto the chilled base. Refrigerate.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or very carefully in the microwave. Add coconut oil. Drizzle over chilled filling.
  8. Chill bars for at least 2 hours. Score the chocolate topping where you plan to slice the bars half an hour into chill time.
  9. Slice the bars with a hot, sharp knife. The first one out is always a mess. The rest come out fine, usually.