Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars

And here we go again. After the summer that wasn’t it’s time to seek solace in all things autumnal. Shades of ochre and ember signaling days dwindling in trade for shaking out cozy TV blankets; warming comfort foods and pumpkin. All things pumpkin! As much as we deride it Pumpkin, or more to the point Pumpkin Spice, has a unique and habitual place in our hearts.

Yes- we role our eyes with derision at the comically esoteric figure of “Becky” swaddled in her fall knitwear, demanding her PSL but we’ll all still be in the coffeeshop line-up with her- upsizing our regular morning caffeine to the mythical spice-laden liquid crack of meme heaven. Aside from the trees, foodie feeds all over social media turn fall shades of red and orange, taken over by recipes and plates of pumpkin inspired/ derived foods and bakes. How do we love pumpkin? Let me count the ways.

You may be thinking I’m lining up for an utterly dismissive and scathing post on pumpkin affairs, but let me say no. I’ve become as much a fan of warmly spice fall bakes as Becky (albeit with less of a penchant for chunky knit cardigans). So here we are at this recipe- my love for the Canuck stalwart that is the Nanaimo Bar embracing the gentle spiced earthiness of pumpkin. The first attempt at this recipe had me overshooting the mark on the addition of the pumpkin puree. The filing layer wasn’t so much the familiar creamy spreadable mixture as it was pourable, in fact pretty much bordering on soup. So- it was back to the recipe board with that one! After some tweaking a more workable result was achieved- creamy, orange-tinted and subtly spiced.

Keep these bars in the fridge to avoid them becoming too soft and undesirably squishy. I personally think the creamy pumpkin layer tastes so much better when chilled too. But that’s just my personal preference and I guess the only way for you to find out is for you to make them yourself- so what are you waiting for?

Makes 18 bars


Base layer

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, natural
  • 1/4 cup fine sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Middle layer

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 2 Tbsp custard powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Top layer

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken/ chopped into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp butter


To prepare the base layer

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper 
  2. In small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, cocoa and sugar, stirring occasionally until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool
  3. Stir in egg, graham cracker crumbs, ground ginger and coconut
  4. Transfer to your prepared pan. Press firmly and level as much as possible
  5. Bake for 10 mins, then remove and leave to cool completely

To prepare the middle layer

  1. In bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together icing sugar, butter, pumpkin, custard powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, vanilla and salt. Spread the mixture evenly over bottom layer; smooth and chill for at least an hour

To prepare the top layer and finish

  1. In a bowl set over barely simmering water, melt chocolate, corn syrup and butter together, stirring occasionally, until smooth and shiny. Pour over the pumpkin layer and smooth
  2. Chill in the refrigerator overnight, or 2 hours minimum. Cut into bars (6 x 3). Keep the cut bars in a covered container either in the refrigerator (3 days) or frozen (3 months)

*To cut the bars, run a sharp knife under hot running water until the blade is hot. Quickly, and carefully, slice down through the bar layers into the number required- here is use 5 x 2 cuts to give 18 bars.


One thought on “Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars

  1. Pingback: Smoked Pumpkin Cheesecake & Bourbon Brownies – Mr. Mom's Kitchen

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