Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

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Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars are three layers of rich, creamy goodness, and best of all this dessert is no-bake! With all the flash of Red Velvet Cake and all the charm of original Nanaimo Bars.

Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars stacked on top of each other

Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars | A Twist on a Classic

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Usually, I can’t come up with any festive recipes for any holiday, but this year I totally did! I couldn’t get red velvet out of my mind so I turned my Mom’s Nanaimo Bar recipe into a red velvet version. I can’t think of any other dessert I could make that would taste nearly as good or addicting as these sweet bars.

If you aren’t familiar with what Nanaimo Bars are, then clearly you don’t have enough Canadian friends. Lucky for you, I’M HERE. Nanaimo Bars are a three-layer, no-bake dessert that originated out of Nanaimo, British Columbia. Generally, the middle filling is yellow and tastes like custard buttercream. But, because this is a Red Velvet Nanaimo Bar, I changed that traditional filling to taste like red velvet. I love the originals, but these are just as tasty, if not more so because they are festive for Valentine’s Day!!

Main Ingredients Needed

Don’t be too intimidated by this ingredients list because a lot of ingredients are used for different layers. Overall there are just 12 ingredients to make these amazing Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars:

Bottom Layer

  • Vegetable Shortening – this creates a silky smooth chocolate base that gets pleasantly disrupted by crushed graham crackers and coconut shreds.
  • Cocoa Powder – unsweetened to be exact! Chocolately goodness.
  • Sugar – here comes the sweetness.
  • Vanilla – to flavor.
  • Egg – this helps thicken the bottom (don’t worry the raw egg comes to temperature in the hot chocolate mixture so there’s little to no risk of food-borne illness).
  • Graham Crackers + Coconut Shreds – lot’s of great texture and flavor coming from these two ingredients.

Middle Layer

  • Powdered Sugar – this sweetens and thickens the middle layer.
  • Cocoa Powder – for flavor!
  • Milk – this thins out the middle layer so that everything can come together.
  • Food Coloring – I use a no-taste red food coloring and would highly recommend finding a no-taste food color. You want to taste the red velvet filling, not the bitter food coloring taste!
  • Butter – for flavor and thickness.

Top Layer

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – sweet chocolatey goodness melted then cooled as the top layer.
  • Vegetable Shortening – this is to soften the chocolate so that when it cools it doesn’t crack when it’s cut into. Instead, it is easily cuttable.
uncut Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

How to Make Nanaimo Bars

I know, big how-to section too! Nanaimo bars aren’t hard to make, they just have a lot of steps. So for full details, see the recipe card down below 🙂

Step 1: Bottom Layer

Line an 8×8 glass dish with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Create a double boiler by placing a heat-proof bowl over a pot with about 2 inches of simmering water. Keep in mind the bowl should not touch the water. Into the bowl, add in vegetable shortening, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla.

Break apart the shortening into smaller pieces and stir with the other dry ingredients.

Once all the shortening has melted and the ingredients have all melted together to be smooth, whisk in beaten egg vigorously. The mixture should thicken almost immediately. Continue whisking until the mixture turns smooth and shiny.

Remove from the double boiler. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and coconut until completely moistened.

Press evenly into the prepared pan and refrigerate.

Step 2: Middle Layer

This layer is much easier than the first. Add melted butter into a bowl filled with milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and red food coloring.

Blend all the ingredients together to create a thick and creamy {and very red!!} filling.

Spread this filling over the chilled bottom layer as evenly as possible and pop it back into the refrigerator.

Step 3: Top Layer


Now, this top layer is simply melted chocolate chips and more vegetable shortening. SO easy! Melt that in the microwave until completely smooth and spread over the chilled middle layer.

Step 4: Refrigerate and Serve!

Now, you can refrigerate this whole thing until the chocolate is set. It’s hard to wait, but I assure you it’s worth it.

After that, we can peel away the foil and cut it into pieces. I used a large, sharp knife to get 36 even squares and would highly recommend doing the same.

With your recipe completely finished, you can sit back, relax and enjoy every last bite of this dessert.

top view of cut up Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

Storing Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

After testing this recipe FOUR {yes, 4!} times, I assure you there won’t be leftovers. If necessary, you can hide a few of these in an airtight container at the back of your fridge for up to 4 days… not that I’ve done that before 😉

cut Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars next to each other

More Red Velvet Recipes to Try!

Anyways, hope you give this recipe a try. Totally worth it!!

Have a great day, friends!!

Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars are three layers of rich, creamy goodness, and best of all this dessert is no-bake! Win win win!
servings 36 squares
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

For the bottom layer:

For the middle layer:

For the top layer:

Instructions

  • Line an 8×8 glass dish with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Create a double boiler by placing a heat-proof bowl over a pot with about 2 inches of simmering water. Keep in mind the bowl should not touch the water. Into the bowl, add in Crisco® shortening, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla.
    Ingredients in a glass bowl
  • Break apart the shortening into smaller pieces and stir with the other dry ingredients.
    Melting ingredients over a double boiler
  • Once all the Crisco® has melted and the ingredients have all melted together to be smooth, whisk in beaten egg vigorously. The mixture should thicken almost immediately. Continue whisking until the mixture turns smooth and shiny; about 1 minute of whisking.
    Chocolate mixture in a bowl
  • Remove from the double boiler. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and coconut until completely moistened.
    Adding coconut shreds and other ingredients
  • Press evenly into the prepared pan and refrigerate.
    Chocolate base in a pan
  • For the second layer, measure all ingredients into a large bowl and using an electric hand mixer, stir until thick and smooth.
    Adding dry ingredients
  • Spread over the bottom layer as evenly as possible and return to the refrigerator.
    Smoothing out red velvet mixture on top of chocolate mixture
  • For the final layer, place chocolate chips and Crisco® shortening into a small bowl and microwave until melted, stirring every 20 seconds.
    Chocolate chips and crisco in a bowl
  • Pour over the red velvet layer and spread until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    Adding melted chocolate over red velvet mixture
  • Remove bars from the glass pan using the edges of foil to pull out completely.
    Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut into 36 small squares. Serve.
    Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

Notes

Can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, though I doubt they will last that long!

Nutrition

Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 49IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Nanaimo Bars, Red Velvet Nanaimo Bars

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9 Responses
  1. Charles B

    Hi Lauren… I’m a Canadian and a longtime lurker… thanks for posting a wonderful twist on a family favourite. I also wish to add that if making in mass quantities that this also freezes very well. thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipes, and love your travel updates as well! Take care, eh!

    1. Lauren

      Hi Charles!! Happy you found me 🙂 I’ll have to try to freeze these in an attempt to hide them from my family…more for me!! Don’t be a stranger! Keep the comments comin’.

  2. Stephanie Griffith

    How can I make a traditional Nanaimo bar? do you have a plain recipe or can I change this one some how? I”m an american obsessed with these hard-to-find treats!

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