Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

nanaimo bars on marble plate

This recipe was inspired by my university days when my friends and I would eat Chapman’s Nanaimo Bar frozen yogurt by the tub. It was bliss. And then they discontinued it.

I had long since forgotten about my heartbreak, until this summer while in Tobermory visiting the Sweet Shack where they had a featured Nanaimo bar ice cream flavour! GASP!

It was sold out. So continues my sad quest. Must I do everything myself?

While formulating my recipe, I decided to change it into an Ice Cream Sandwich instead… Give it a try!


  • I found that heating my knife with hot water between each cut provided a nice clean edge.
  • I used Bird’s Custard Powder for this recipe, but vanilla pudding mix will also get the job done.

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 3/4 cup milk (any fat percentage)
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup birds custard powder (or vanilla pudding mix)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

  • BASE:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons butter



Start with the ice cream. Heat milk, cream, and sugar in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat on the stove, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer.


Meanwhile, combine the custard powder and egg yolks in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of milk. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the eggs, a bit at a time, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg. Pour back into the pot and cook on the stove, stirring, until the mixture thickens, and is almost boiling.


Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.


Strain through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg. Pour into a large container or bowl and press plastic wrap or parchment paper to the surface to prevent a film from forming. Place in an ice bath, or in the fridge until cold (4 hours or overnight). Make the base layer before processing your ice cream.


Make the base layer. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and mix well to combine.


Whisk the egg, and add to the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly until the mixture has thickened. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the graham cracker and coconut. Pour in the hot chocolate mixture, and mix until everything is moistened. It should look crumbly, but if you press it together with your hands, it should hold it's shape. If you can't add a tablespoon of honey or water.


Line a 9x9 or 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, making sure to keep a 2inch overhang over the sides so you can remove them later. Add chocolate base mixture to the bottom, and press evenly into the pan, spreading it to the corners.


Process your ice cream as per your ice cream makers instructions. Evenly spread the ice cream into your prepared pan on top of the base layer. Freeze until fully hardened (6 hours or overnight) before adding the last layer.


To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, or in the microwave with 1-minute intervals (stirring between each one). Pour this over the ice cream layer. It will harden very quickly so work fast smoothing it over the top evenly. You can cut your bars now, or place back in the freezer until you are ready to serve.


To cut into bars, remove from baking pan by pulling up with the parchment paper. If it feels stuck, carefully run hot water over the sides to loosen or let sit for 5 minutes. Remove parchment and place on cutting board. Cut into 16 bars with a sharp knife. It helps to run hot water over your knife between each cut (wipe dry before cutting, and again after to remove any chocolate from the knife). Store in the freezer.


I found that heating my knife with hot water between each cut provided a nice clean edge. I used Bird's Custard Powder for this recipe, but vanilla pudding mix will also get the job done.

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