cupcake meets nanaimo bar

If you're Canadian, you must be familiar with the popular Nanaimo bar, a sliced dessert bar that makes its appearance at most important events - especially around Christmas. You can read about the origin of the Nanaimo bar here. If you've never tried them, get the ingredients and make them this year for the holidays. Trust Saucy on this one, people. Aside from the sport of basketball, William Shatner and Justin Bieber, this might be one of Canada's greatest contributions to society.

What if the quintessential Canadian slice made its way onto a cupcake? It would be... nirvana.

Saucy prepared a box of Betty Crocker Butter Pecan cake mix as follows:

  • Sift the cake mix with 1/3 cup dry cocoa
  • Mix in three eggs (at room temperature), plus
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, plus
  • 1 cup water
  • Beat until blended (about one minute)
  • Beat on high speed until light and fluffy (two minutes)
  • Fold in 1/4 cup fine, unsweetened coconut and 3 tablespoons ground almond
  • Scoop with ice cream scoop into paper lined muffin tin (24)
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes
  • Cool completely before frosting

For the frosting, Saucy prepared her usual buttercream recipe (below) but she added two tablespoons of custard powder and tinted it a nice golden yellow colour. She topped each cupcake with a nice bite-sized piece of Nanaimo bar.

Today, the Cheerios had their Christmas cupcake sale at the school. Over 300 cupcakes went in just under one hour. There were the usual flavours you've seen here on the blog, plus special Christmas cupcakes like Spicy Gingerbread Boy, Tutti Frutti Candy Cane and Chocolate Peppermint. It was like, a cupcake smorgasbord.

The Cheerios are getting downright professional with their mad decorating skills.

Saucy's Never-Fail Frosting

1 cup butter at room temperature*
1 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature (ie. Crisco)
1 teaspoon white vanilla (ie. Wilton)
dash of salt (important!)
4 cups confectioners/icing sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream

Best made in a stand mixer. Cream together the butter, salt and shortening thoroughly. Add the sugar, one cup at a time until blended. Beat in the vanilla as you go. When the sugar is completely beaten in, make sure the sides of the bowl are scraped down. Add the whipping cream, beating at the highest speed until super fluffy, about one minute. Use immediately. Store covered in refrigerator when not in use.

If you would like to add colouring, use the professional type sold at cake decorating supply specialty stores or Micheals. Remember: paste food colouring is stronger and more vibrant, so measure accordingly. The colour will also deepen after blending so keep your tint light.

* In Canada, at Real Canadian Superstore, Saucy buys "white margarine" for making large quantities of frosting, especially when the Cheerios are decorating upwards of 300 cupcakes. It's a cost thing. Plus, it's white-white so the finished frosting, if you use white vanilla... is as pure as the driven snow.


karen said...

Nanaimo cupcake - Inspired!!

Sometime could you create a maple syrup kind of cupcake, please and thank you

LoveCupcakes said...

I love the toppings of your cupcakes! It's totally perfect! I will be waiting for your next post. Thanks

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You make me want to lick my computer screen.

Stef said...

Yummy! Is 'custard powder' in CA the 'instant pudding mix' in the US? Inquiring minds want to know!
We dipped marshmallows last week. The peppermint candy/chocolate dip is scrumptious.

Anonymous said...

What tip did you use for the cupcakes shown here?
What advice on technique can you offer up so that when I ice my cupcakes, they look just like that!

Angela said...

beautiful and tasty too!
The girls did a great job!
Will have to try out the nanaimo, never heard of it!

Rhonda Roo said...


I would be a cheerio supporter, if i lived closer.

i would also need support hose...

I am digging the flavors!!!


Kerrie said...

That looks devine! Your cupcakes are always, always fun. And yummy I bet. I really wish I lived closer but talking the hubs into a trip to Canada to taste a cupcake would go over like a lead balloon... God Bless!

Carlene said...

I made a version of the nanaimo bar cupcake too! And by a quick google search there aren't too many out there & we're both in the same city! Hoorah!

Check ours out:

MelanieG said...

As a Canadian ex pat (actually from Nanaimo), I can tell you that you want to use Bird's custard powder. It's from the UK and you can find it at world cost plus markets here in the US. It's different from instant pudding (Birds is a product you would cook when preparing) and it totally makes the bar...the color just happens when you use Birds). I worked at the Nanaimo District Museum in the 90's and we would get mail weekly with $20 US in it asking to be sent some Birds Custard powder because they'd tried it with pudding mix and it just wasn't the same!
Very cute cupcakes...thumbs up!!!