Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Make Those Feathery Lines on Nanaimo Bars

Pretty Nanaimo Bars
So, when people eat my Nanaimo Bars, they usually ask, "How did you get those fancy lines on there?"  I'm really not sure exactly where I learned how to do this (probably Food Network), but it's actually a very easy thing to do.  I'm hoping that the pictures I've taken and the description I'm giving explains it well enough.  If you want to do this, and my instructions are confusing, would you please leave me some feedback and I'll try to revise.  If you do try this and my instructions help you, I'd like to hear about that too.  (Have I mentioned I'm also a teacher in my normal life?)

To get the "feathered" design on top of Nanaimo bars, this is what you need to do: 

#1 Make a wax paper or parchment paper pastry cone (How to Fold a Parchment Pastry Cone).
Wax paper pastry cone
#2 Melt your chocolate in a double boiler.  Don't let the term "double boiler" freak you out if you've never used one.  I use a medium size pot half-filled with water, and then I place a metal bowl on top.  That's it.
My double boiler.

#3  Get the rest of your materials ready because once you get the chocolate melted, you want to be ready to spread the chocolate, make your white chocolate lines, and then drag the toothpick through.  
Before you put on the top chocolate layer, melt a small amount (2-3 teaspoons) of white or milk chocolate (I also add a few drops of canola oil).  Scrape melted white/milk chocolate into pastry cone that's resting inside an empty glass or cup to keep it from spilling.
Everything's ready to go.  Melted white chocolate is in pastry cone with top folded/rolled down.

 #4 Once you've spread the melted dark chocolate on top, snip off about 1/8 of an inch from the tip of the pastry cone.  
White chocolate filled pastry cone with tip snipped, ready to go.

#5 Pipe parallel lines about 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart on top of chocolate.  I don't even make exact lines, I just sort of zig-zag.  If you get stray drips of white chocolate on the dark, that's okay, they'll add character to your finished product.
My imperfect zig-zag white chocolate lines.

#6 Take a toothpick and run it back and forth every 1/4 to 1/2 inch perpendicular to the lines you've piped.  You don't have to be too careful because it will turn out beautiful even if it's not "perfect."  
Four o'clock in the afternoon wasn't the best time to photograph this, but hopefully you get the idea.
#7  Be sure to refrigerate for about 10 minutes, or until chocolate is JUST set, and then cut.  If you cut before the chocolate is set, it won't be "cut."  If you cut after the chocolate is hard, you'll end up with ugly crackage.  Nobody wants that if they can avoid it.
This chocolate is not set.  Not ready to be cut.
Good luck!  Let me know how it turns out!


  1. Kelly, You know how I feel about your Nanaimo Bars. I rarely make them because I will shamelessly eat them all. However, we have special company coming in today, so I made two batches of them. For the first time, I tried your decorating technique. I am definitely not artistically inclined, but this was relatively simple and your directions are awesome. However, I found that I should have drizzled on only one 9 x 13 at a time rather than trying to assembly-line the process, drizzling on both 9x13's at once. By the time I got to the toothpick-dragging part on 9 x 13 #2, the white chocolate was hard, crackly & undraggable. :-( I did manage a quick-fix by adding a thin layer of melted chocolate chips and re-drizzling the white chocolate. Whammo! I got a do-over. :-) 9 x 13 #2 isn't as pretty as 9 x 13 #1, but it's not bad for a first-time-drizzler. :-)

    Love your blog!


  2. A 9x13 pan? I thought the recipe makes it in a 9x9? Did you double/triple the batch to make 2 pans of 9x13?

    1. Anonymous, my friend above must have quadrupled the recipe for a crowd. I, personally, use a 9x13 if I double the recipe. They turn out slightly thicker than normal. If I triple the recipe I use a 10x15 Pyrex pan.

  3. This looks great! Can't wait to try it

  4. thank you for finding this neat trick to make the bars look special , I will try it . M Hardgrave

  5. Great pictures and directions. I've done this trick with sugar cookies, but wasn't positive with the nanaimo bars. I'm entering a contest so wish me luck this will wow the judges!

    1. I'm waaaaaay behind on looking at my comments. What happened with the contest?

  6. The nanaimo recipe I have calls for 2 TBSP of butter and 115 grams of chocolate. Every time I try to melt the chocolate it becomes a mushy solid, instead of a liquid like yours. What am I doing wrong? I tried not adding the butter and it just froze instantly when I poured it on the 2nd layer. Help please :(

    1. Sorry it's taken me so long to see this comment. I think maybe you emailed me about this. I use vegetable oil or vegetable shortening instead of butter for the top layer because I was having the same problem with the chocolate seizing up.


Hello! If your comment is more of a question about something you are cooking RIGHT NOW, please email me the question in addition to posting it here. I check my email more frequently than I check my blog comments. :)

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