Jessie Oleson

Posted by Jessie Oleson from

August 17th, 2010

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Nanaimo Bars are quite possibly one of the most perfect foods out there (and certainly one of Canada’s finest exports), comprised of a dense, chocolaty crust, a dreamy middle layer of custardy buttercream, and a thick slab of chocolate on top as a crowning glory. But what happens when you add peanut butter to all this awesome?

What happens, friends, is that you get an indescribably rich, irresistible, salty-sweet dessert experience–the type of dessert that a chocolate peanut butter cup wishes to be when it grows up. As a shout-out to its Canadian hometown, this version is made using Mighty Maple peanut butter in the midsection, although any smoother-textured variation would work well in this recipe.

Recipe adapted from the City of Nanaimo.

Prep time: 1 hour 20 minutes (includes 1 hour chilling time)
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 36 bite-sized bars


For bottom layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
1 cup shredded coconut

For middle layer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup Mighty Maple peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or instant vanilla pudding powder
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For top layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter


1. Prepare bottom layer. Melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa in a double boiler until fully incorporated, but do not let the mixture come to a boil.

Add the beaten egg and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and nuts.

2. Press down firmly into an ungreased 8 x 8-inch pan; try to make the mixture as flat as possible in the pan. Let this cool for about an hour. It will make your life easier, by the way, to put a layer of parchment in the bottom of the pan.

3. Prepare the middle layer. Cream the butter, Mighty Maple peanut butter, vanilla powder, salt, and confectioners’ sugar together, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. If it is too thick, you might want to add a small quantity of milk or cream to the mixture, until it is of a spreadable consistency. Spread over bottom layer, once again trying to make the surface as flat as possible. At this point, I like to put the pan in the refrigerator, as it is easier to spread the top layer on when the buttery middle layer is a bit more solid.

4. Prepare the top layer. Melt chocolate, butter, and Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter slowly over low heat. Once fully melted and incorporated, remove from heat and allow to solidify to the point where it is thick but still pourable. Pour over second layer as quickly as you can so that the middle layer doesn’t begin to melt. Let the bars cool for at least one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars, 8.5 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

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20 Responses to Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

  1. John says:

    Jessie, I love your photos. They’re so cute!

  2. lacyface says:

    I think this is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen!

  3. CakeSpy says:

    Thanks buddies! Trust me, these Nanaimo bars will make you so happy. :-)

  4. says:

    Ooh I’m so glad you made these bars in a peanut butter version! I’ve been planning on blogging about Nanaimo bars for ages because I’m originally from Victoria which is only about an hour or so away from Nanaimo! Glad to see these little bars are making their way around the world!

  5. Sam says:

    do the bars need to stay refrigerated after you are done. I know they need to be chilled an hour before, but after that?

  6. CakeSpy says:

    Sam, great question. I usually do keep them chilled because they can get a bit soft and hard to handle at room temperature. I would probably keep them chilled and remove from the fridge maybe 20-30 minutes before serving.

  7. Andrew B. says:

    These are going to be my contribution to the dessert table this year for Thanksgiving. Mighty Maple seems perfect for theholiday season. I picked it up at Walmart today and I’m so glad I came to the site and found this recipe!

  8. Skip McGee says:

    This website is cool, keep up the good work!

  9. emily says:

    These look just like the peanut butter crispy bars from baked! (only without the crispy part). Check them out-

  10. Jennifer Abbott says:

    If I had company coming over I would make Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars, because everyone loves Peanut Butter and Chocolate, it is the perfect marriage. Also, they do look so dreamy! I will definitely be making these in the near future.

  11. Lucy Nicewander says:

    I would like to make this it sounds very good!

  12. Laura Kennedy says:

    I would definitely make these for myself! I love chocolate, peanut butter, maple, and coconut!
    In fact, I believe this will be the next sweet treat I make! :0)

  13. DEBBIE S says:


  14. Rachel says:

    I just bought two Bees Knees this weekend – I can’t wait to try them with this recipe. They look like a cousin to my absolute favorite – millionaires shortbread. Yum!

  15. Elizabeth Rugalla says:

    Umm can we say heaven?! This once again reminded me of why this peanut butter is my favorite and why I get it shipped to PA where I live. I think its time for taking on this recipe bc I don’t think I can wait to dig in! Heaven! :) yummalicious!

  16. Cindy says:

    These were fabulous! I just may omit the coconut next time since in my opinion, it only added texture and not taste. Other than that, they were just the best.

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