These Chocolate Nanaimo Bar Sugar Cookies are a nod to one of my all time favorite sweets, the Nanaimo Bar. It’s named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, and is a dessert bar that traditionally consists of three layers: a graham wafer crumb and shredded coconut base, custard-flavored butter icing in the middle, and a chocolate ganache on top.
I’ve incorporated chocolaty goodness, graham wafer crumbs and shredded coconut into the rollout cookie dough and sandwiched a sweet and buttery custardy icing in between. And OH MY I can’t get enough of these! The combination of a yummy chocolate cookie and custard filling, layered with a few extra flavors – I did also add crushed walnuts – Mmmm mmm!
I was happy to make these for Williams Sonoma Canada, who shared this beautiful cutting board and happy kitchen towels with me. The cutting board sold out quickly, but I will come back and add a link when and if it comes back in stock. Williams Sonoma has so many other gorgeous and excellent quality options, you can see more wooden cutting boards here.
They’re perfect for any time, and of course, just in time for Canada Day! I hope you enjoy making and eating these just as much as I did!
A few notes:
- The crushed walnuts are optional.
- I put a generous amount of custard in the middle, you can put more or less to taste, or even just make the cookies and no custard – they’re delicious on their own too.
- You can use any size cookie cutter. I used a 2 inch square cutter and a similarly sized maple leaf cookie cutter.
- The cookie dough recipe can be used as a base for a decorated cookie (decorated with royal icing). You could even flavor your royal icing with custard flavoring or powder. Just keep in mind the powder will turn your icing a yellowish tinge, so you would have to account for that when coloring your icing.
- Traditionally, Nanaimo bars have a top layer of melted chocolate. You could dip the top layer of the Nanaimo cookie in melted chocolate if you like.
- You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes, either are yummy, but of course, sweetened flakes are sweeter.
- Use any shape cookie cutter you like for the cookie dough. I used the maple leaf for the upcoming Canada Day celebrations.
- I used an offset palette spatula to clean the edges once the icing was sandwiched between two cookies.
Nanaimo Bar Sugar Cookie Recipe and Custard Icing Recipe
Nanaimo Bar Rollout Cookie Recipe
- 2 cups salted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup crushed walnuts optional
- 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
- Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed (Use a paddle attachment). Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more. Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough. If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.
- Add eggs slowly and mix. Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.
- Add liquid vanilla extract. Stir briefly.
- For the crushed walnuts, make sure the pieces are small, almost to a powdered state. I placed my walnut pieces in a ziplock bag, wrapped the bag with a kitchen towel and used the flat side of a meat mallet to crush the walnuts. Add the crushed walnuts, graham cracker crumbs and sweetened coconut flakes and mix.
- Sift your dry ingredients together. (Flour and cocoa powder).
- Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Place a large kitchen towel or two small kitchen towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape. Mix on low speed for 3o seconds. Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready. It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough. If your dough seems too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until perfect consistency.
- Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat.
- Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. They will then hold their shape better when baked.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.
- Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the center of the cookie no longer looks wet. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.
- Let cookies cool to room temperature and sandwich custard icing between two cookies.
Custard Buttercream Frosting Filling
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar *also known as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbsp custard powder
- 5 Tbsp hot water
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, powdered sugar and custard powder on medium-high speed until pale in color.
- Using a plastic baking spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the hot water. Beat the mixture on medium speed until the filling icing is light and fluffy.
p.s. If any of these make it out the door, they look pretty in little boxes, tied with ribbon if you like. The box pictured here is from Creative Bag.