Recipes: Rowhouse Spirits’ Dean’s Mom’s Nanaimo Bars

Rowhouse Spirits‘ owner/distiller Dean Browne:  Here’s the recipe my family uses for Nanaimo Bars. My Mom makes them every Christmas, and now, so do I. My Mom and my Grandmother always made a ton of different sweets and snacks over the holidays. they would break them out anytime we had company, which was often. Of course, as kids, we always went straight for the sweets. Nanaimo Bars are a popular confection in Canada. They are sort of like a brownie topped with butter icing topped with melted chocolate.

Rowhouse Spirits’ Dean’s Mom’s Nanaimo Bars

Servings:  approximately 12

Base Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup crushed Graham Cracker wafers
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup coconut

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla custard powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter, creamed
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon butter


  1. Place 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup white sugar, 4 Tablespoons cocoa, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a double boiler and blend to a custard like consistency.  NOTE: You can also use a microwave, just use a low heat and take it slow.
  2. Then mix in the crushed Graham Cracker wafers, walnuts and coconut.
  3. Place into a 9-inch square pan and compress the base mixture into the bottom of the pan so that it is tight and firm.
  4. Mix 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder with 3 tablespoons of milk
  5. Cream 1/4 cup of butter and add to this second custard mixture
  6. Blend in 2 cups of icing sugar
  7. Spread onto the base in the pan, and let stand to set.
  8. Melt 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 Tablespoon of butter, and top it all off.
  9. Refrigerate 1 hour before cutting. Enjoy!
Nanaimo Bars (photo via
Nanaimo Bars (photo via

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