Nanaimo bars, reversed!

I had my fortune told, or rather I had my cards read (tarot cards to be exact). Apparently, my 2012 was all about endings. Endings and changes. Ain’t that the truth!

I think the hardest part of 2012 was taking the plunge and going to culinary school, only to withdraw after the first term. 2012 was the first time that I didn’t finish something I started. 2012 was the first time that I called it quits. When I look back at this past year and all the hopes I had for it, 2012 has me completely horrified with the haunting question: “How did I let this happen?”

white chocolate nanaimo bars

2012 tossed me around and made me cry.

2012 made me fight.

2012 was draining.

nanaimo bars

2012 could not have been all bad, and so I have to wonder: where’s the silver lining in all this? Cue Bradley Cooper. It can’t be all negative, and focusing on all the bad and viewing 2012 as a complete failure isn’t very helpful. So, when I look back on 2012, I have to remember that I made so many amazing connections and friends in 2012, and they will undoubtedly have a lasting, positive impression on me. And, as L pointed out to me: 2012 was a struggle, but I survived. I plowed forward despite everything.

Oh, 2012, I don’t want to say that I hated you, but I won’t deny that I’m glad to finally see you go.

Here’s to 2013 and new beginnings. A ten of pentacles full of hope.

Canadian dessert

This Nanaimo bar recipe was originally published in Canadian Living Holiday Special Baking Edition. It was one of those recipes that I saw and was instantly curious about. A typical Nanaimo bar is made up of a dark chocolate/graham/coconut/walnut crust with a sweet, thick custard filling and a dark chocolate top. The reversed Nanaimo bars are kind of opposite to that, so a white chocolate/graham/coconut/almond crust with a deep dark chocolate custard filling and a white chocolate top. Honestly, I think I like the reversed Nanaimo bar variation better than the original. Shocking, but true. I found this version full of flavor and less cloyingly sweet.


Nanaimo bars, reversed!

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 25 squares
Author Janice


For the crust

  • 30 grams white chocolate, chopped 1/4 cup
  • 60 grams unsalted butter 1/4 cup, melted
  • 150 grams graham cracker crumbs 1 1/2 cups
  • 75 grams unsweetened shredded coconut 1/2 cup, for a sweeter base, use sweetened
  • 25 grams sliced almonds 1/4 cup
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

For the filling

  • 77 grams unsalted butter 1/3 cup, room temperature
  • 61 grams cocoa powder 2/3 cup,
  • 153 grams icing sugar 1 1/3 cups
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 2 tbsp custard powder optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the white chocolate layer

  • 225 grams white chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter


For the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8×8″ pan by buttering it all over and then lining the bottom with a square of parchment.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter and the white chocolate.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds. Stir in the melted butter and white chocolate and mix to combine, then stir in the egg.
  4. Press the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and use a flat-bottomed glass to flatten the crust into an even layer.
  5. Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to let the crust cool completely.

For the filling:

  1. When the crust is cooled, make the cocoa filling by beating the butter, cocoa powder, icing sugar, cream, custard powder (if using) and vanilla together, first on low, then on medium-high til it’s smooth.
  2. Spread the cocoa filling over the cooled graham cracker crust. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate it to set it, at least 1 hour.

For the white chocolate layer:

  1. When the filling is completely chilled and firm, make the white chocolate topping by melting together the white chocolate with the butter over low heat or in the microwave.
  2. Pour the melted chocolate over the filling and spread it with an offset spatula.
  3. Refrigerate the pan for about 15 minutes to partially set the chocolate, then with a sharp knife, score the chocolate layer into 25 squares to make cutting easier later on.
  4. Refrigerate for another hour or so, until the chocolate is completely hardened.
  5. Cut the squares along the score lines to serve.

Recipe Notes

  • For the white chocolate, I used Cacao Barry white chocolate, which you can find on Amazon
  • For the cocoa powder, I used Cacao Barry extra brute, which you can buy on Amazon

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to Nanaimo bars, reversed!

  1. Medeja January 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I wish you much happier and better New Year 2013! 🙂

    I have only heard about Nanaimo bars.. In your pictures they look really tempting!

    • Janice Lawandi January 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      Nanaimo bars are so easy and a great sweet treat! You should definitely give these a shot.


  1. December 2016 desktop calendar | Kitchen Heals Soul - December 1, 2016

    […] pots de crème & slushie that I’ll photograph tomorrow, and the cookie base for these Nanaimo bars, that will get filled and finished sometime tomorrow when I can squeeze in a couple minutes. I […]

Read previous post:
Christmas stlollen bread
Christmas stollen

There was a bakery in our neighbourhood, years ago, that used to sell stollen at Christmas time. Stollen wasn't something...