No Bake, No Fuss, Sweet & Salty Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Last summer we took the boys to Nanaimo, a picturesque harbor city on Vancouver Island in British Colombia. We discovered the most delicious ice cream bars and in true Sweet Nerd-style knew I needed to remake this perfect salty sweet combination. Man, these Canadians got it right, eh?!?

Typically, Nanaimo ice cream bars are served with a custard-flavored butter icing as the center, but I wanted to try it with ice cream.  My kids loved the pretzels in the cookie bar, and I was dying over the velvety chocolate layer on top. (And everyone loved the ice cream in the middle!).

Nanaimo Ice Cream BarsThese Nanaimo ice cream bars are a cinch to make. Just load them up with berry ice cream and chocolate goodness and you’re done.  There is no baking, just light toasting and a little action on the stovetop.  You will love the results!

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Yes, I did say, No-Bake!  We love that term, especially in the summertime. So, let’s get going with making the chocolate layer first.  To get that perfect balance of salty and sweet, you’ll want to start off by toasting half a cup of walnuts for five minutes. For the sweetness, I chose amaretti cookies and pretzels for an added crunch and saltiness.  I used Lazzaroni Amaretti Cookie Snaps (Italian) that have an intense sweet almond flavor. If you are not a fan of the Amaretti flavor, just grab your favorite cookie and make cookie crumbs out of it. Put it all together in a large saucepan and refrigerate for 30 minutes before you load in your favorite ice cream.

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

any kind of ice cream, but especially Jeni’s Brambleberry.  It is a heavenly blend of blackberry, black raspberry jam and oat streusel mixed in with honey vanilla ice cream.  There are no limitations here. Just choose your favorite ice cream and go for it!  Pop it in the freezer and prep the last step.

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Did somebody say…chocolate ganache topic? Yes, please!

I swear to you, this topping is so quick and easy it will blow your mind. It literally takes five minutes and is made on the stovetop. Tip: use a bain marie, (ban mah-REE) which is the fancy term for a hot water bath.  I use a saucepan filled with about an inch of water and pop it on to a low flame.  Once it starts to simmer, I place a metal or heatproof bowl on top (note: it should not touch the water) and add in the chocolate, heavy cream, corn syrup, and remaining two tablespoons of butter.  Gently stir until the ganache is smooth and all the chocolate has melted.  Set it aside and let it cool.  Once it’s at room temperature, spread that chocolate goodness over the ice cream layer. Pop it in the freezer and you’re almost done!

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Look at that chocolate bottom.  Isn’t it divine? I’m already dying over all that chewy chocolate, salty sweetness ready to be devoured!

Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

Your mission is complete! Remove your Nanaimo ice cream bars from the freezer and enjoy some frozen chocolate bliss!

Credits: Adapted from Food & Wine Nanaimo Bars

Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Nanaimo Sweet & Salty Bars

By TheSweetNerd  , ,

July 25, 2016

Adapted from Food & Wine

  • Prep: 1 hr 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins


1/2 cup walnuts (2 ounces), toasted

2 1/2 ounces Amaretti cookies snaps, broken into crumbs

2 1/2 ounces salted pretzels (about 7 rods)

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (high quality)

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 pints your favorite ice cream, slightly softened

5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon corn syrup


1Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang all around.

2Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool, chop and transfer to a large bowl.

3Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the cookies until fine crumbs form; add to the walnuts. In a resealable plastic bag, crush the pretzels with a rolling pin until small chunks form; add the pretzels to the walnuts.

4In a large saucepan, melt the stick of butter over very low heat. Add the brown sugar and high quality cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Slowly drizzle the egg and vanilla into the saucepan, whisking, until thickened, 2 minutes. Mix in the walnut mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish in an even layer and refrigerate the cookie base for 30 minutes.

5Spread 1 1/2 pints of the ice cream over the cookie base and freeze for 2 hours. Reserve the remaining ice cream for another use.

6Meanwhile, in a heatproof medium bowl, combine the chocolate, heavy cream, corn syrup and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

7Pour the ganache over the ice cream and spread it evenly. Freeze for 2 hours, until set. Cut into 8 bars and serve.

This recipe has very little cooking time, but you do need to pop in refrigerator and freezer in between layers.


Nanaimo Ice Cream Bars

1 Comment

  • April Davila
    7 years ago

    These bars are even more delicious than they look. I let the kids help (since there were no hot surfaces) and everybody loved them. A big win all around. Thanks!

Related Posts