Nanaimo Bar Tart (Low Carb)


Low Carb Nanaimo Bar TartHAPPY CANADA DAY! If you are wondering to yourself exactly what Canada Day actually is, don’t fret. You are in good company. I’ll be honest, even having grown up in Canada, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what Canada Day symbolized. To me, it was just a day off, one of those statutory holidays that people take for granted, like bank holidays in England (what ARE those bank holidays, anyway?). Although some Canadian cities and towns put on parades and fireworks, it’s not quite the flag-waving, overtly patriotic celebration that the Fourth of July is for Americans. It’s quieter than that and people don’t generally get all that excited about it. So I spent my youth only having a vague notion what it was we were celebrating…if we even did, in fact, celebrate.

Low Carb Nanaimo Bar Tart

Does that sound awful to you? If you are an American who likes to whoop it up on Independence Day, it might seem like we Canucks have no pride in our country. But that impression would be all sorts of wrong. We are actually fiercely proud of being Canadian, particularly when away from our home turf (or when it comes to hockey, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax). It’s just that, like Canada Day itself, it’s expressed in a quieter way, and on a smaller scale.

And really, this is all quite befitting of what Canada Day actually symbolizes. Unlike the US, we didn’t make a huge bold leap into becoming an independent country. We just quietly confederated some British colonies into four provinces, as part of the Dominion of Canada, on July 1st, 1867. We were now a country in our own right, but Britain maintained some political control. Then we managed to pick up a few more provinces and territories along the way and shrug off a few of Britain’s legislative rights here and there. Finally, with the Constitution Act of 1982, we shed the last of our dependence on Britain and patriated the Canadian Constitution. It doesn’t quite have the drama of the bloody battles that led to American Independence, now does it? But I suppose that is the Canadian way.

Low Carb Nanaimo Bar Tart

For my part, I am celebrating Canada Day this year by reprising a quintessential Canadian recipe. I made low carb Nanaimo Bars for Canada Day last year and they were fantastic, so I thought that was that, I’d nailed the recipe and didn’t need to play with it. Then I saw a recipe by Lindsey at Gingerbread Bagels for Mini Nanaimo Tarts. Let me be clear that Lindsey is not Canadian, and some people might not like her messing with our national dessert, but I thought it was absolutely brilliant! After all, there is nothing in the Canadian Constitution that says we have to eat them in bar form. And there is nothing quite like American ingenuity, is there???

Low Carb Nanaimo Bar Tart

I decided to make one big tart out of it, because my little tart pans don’t have removable bottoms, an essential for getting this sticky treat out of the pan. For the most part, I followed my recipe for low carb Nanaimo Bars, but I did make a few little changes along the way. For one, I ended up with too much crust material, so I’ve cut back the crust ingredients in the recipe. I also found my filling simply too thick this time, so I thinned it out with some almond milk. If you’re the sort that likes your Nanaimo Bars very sweet, you may want to also add some powdered erythritol or xylitol to the filling. I changed the chocolate topping quite a bit. I’ve learned a few things about working with unsweetened chocolate over the past year and this is a definite improvement.

Low Carb Nanaimo Bar Tart

Nanaimo Bar Tart

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp granulated erythritol
1 egg, beaten
1 cup almond meal
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(add a few tbsp of powdered erythritol or xylitol if you want it sweeter)

Chocolate ganache:
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp powdered erythritol
2 tbsp cocoa powder
8 drops stevia extract

For the crust, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa and erythritol and then slowly whisk in beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in almond meal, coconut, nuts and vanilla. Press crust evenly into bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom and refrigerate until firm (30-45 minutes).

In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add cream, pudding powder, almond milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Spread over crust and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

In a small saucepan over low, melt butter, unsweetened chocolate together and powdered erythritol together. Add cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in stevia extract. Spread over filling and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Serves 12. Each serving has a total of 13.4g of carbs and 2.6g of fiber, but only 8.4g of carbs if you subtract erythritol. Total net carbs = 5.8g.

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  1. Celia says

    Oooooh, Caaaanadaaaa…you produced the awesomest dessert. Love Nanaimo Bars – making them into a tart is a great idea!

  2. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    I had no idea that these bars were a Canadian thing. Happy holiday weekend (Canada Day and 4th of July)!

  3. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom says

    Happy Cananda Day to you and what a sweet way to celebrate! I've thought about making these bars before but love the tart idea better. Have a great weekend Carolyn.

  4. Maureen says

    This looks delicious!

    I'm an American living in Australia and everyone who meets me says, "Are you Canadian?"

    I was getting a complex until someone said, "oh, we always ask if people are Canadian because they get really pissed off if you ask them if they're American."


    Happy Canada Day!

  5. Parsley Sage says

    Happy Canada Day! The Consulate here throws a big party every year at Agua Beach. I may not be Canadian but I always go. I annually crash Aussie Day too :)

    Fabulous tart, darling! Buzzed :)

  6. Susan says

    Happy Canada Day! What a clever idea! I would love a piece right now and it's only 8:30! Beautiful tart!

  7. Erin says

    Carolyn – these look wonderful! I am not from Canada, but I would be if I got to eat this all the time! Happy Canada Day to you! And you can come to dinner anytime – maybe together we could get a picture of the food!

  8. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    Aww thanks for the mention! I'm glad you approve of my Mini Nanaimo Tart. :)
    Your Nanaimo Bar Tart looks amazing. I wish I had a huge slice, ok actually I'd like to eat the whole tart! I'm always amazed at the low carb desserts you make.

  9. Emily @ Life on Food says

    This looks delicious. My favorite part of desserts like this is the crust. I love it when they are nice and thick. I liked your shortened history of Canada Independence. And I have been to some of those hockey matches. I KNOW you are proud folks!

  10. Roxana GreenGirl says

    Happy Canada Day Carolyn.
    I love your way of celebrating the National Day. I'm not a big fan of parades and fireworks either, to be honest even the tiny sparkles scary me.
    This tart looks and sounds great. I'd sure love a slice!

  11. The Procrastobaker says

    What a brilliant idea! Looks deeeeelish, And as its in tart form you can eat more than you would as bars whilst not feeling so guilty as its a more a dessert rather than a snack :) i dont know if that makes sense…its my minds way of justifying eating lotsa sweets!

  12. Maris(In Good Taste) says

    What a mouthwatering tart! I would start at the crust, finish it off and keep going!

  13. Lizzy says

    Wow, this is terrific, Carolyn! Stunning AND delicious! Again you amaze me with your low carb version that is more beautiful than any carb heavy Nanaimo bar I've seen.

  14. Sarah says

    I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago during the Stanley cup and I have never seen so much pride in one city- Happy Canada Day! This Nanaimo Bar Tart seems like a pretty good way to celebrate to me.

  15. Lisa @ Tarte du Jour says

    Happy happy Canada Day! I loved your write up… thanks for the brief history lesson on the formation of Canada. And hurray, I'm glad to see you celebrating it with a very beautiful tart!! Hats off to you, Carolyn!

  16. All That's Left Are The Crumbs says

    Oh Canada, you still have part of my heart. I loved every minute of living there many years ago. Ok, well I was a little homesick for the first few weeks, but if I could have lived there forever we would have – the Immigration Department had other ideas :( This tart looks like a wonderful way to celebrate a wonderful country.

  17. The Harried Cook says

    Happy Canada Day, Carolyn! That tart looks really, really good… Thanks for sharing… :)

  18. Janet@ from cupcakes to caviar says

    Oh, I SOOOOO buzzed this! I have read so many recipes for Nanaimo tarts but never tried them. I think THIS one will be made however :-)

  19. The Mom Chef says

    Nanaimo Bars? I've never even heard of them. That definitely looks fantastic though. I'm seeing a bunch of recipes for the things so I guess I'll have to look into what they really are. :)

  20. sheila @ Elements says

    Your tart looks so delicious!!! I've never had a Nanaimo bar before, but I can tell you one thing…your pictures are making my mouth water, and I'm sure I'd love this! Happy Canada Day by the way! :)

  21. Amanda says

    Nanaimo bars are the thing I love most in this world (after my daughter, husband, family, and friends, of course), so if you ever get the urge to make me a birthday dessert and send it, something Nanaimo-related would be looked upon very favourably… just sayin'!

  22. Ruby says

    You DIDN'T. OMG yes you did. A whole Nanaimo bar tart?! Girl, you're insane. In a totally wonderful way!

  23. Délices d´Ispahan says

    This tart looks mouthwatering! The combination of a cream with nuts and chocolate… YUmmmmie

  24. Reena says

    Love this. I'm definitely going to try it :)

    By the way, Canada certainly knows how to party on Canada Day! I grew up in Ottawa, so seeing the downtown streets filled with people in red and white from morning to night makes a Canadian girl proud. You have not experienced Canada Day until you've spent it in Ottawa. This year was my first year not in Canada for July 1st, and was extremely homesick..

  25. Cookin' Canuck says

    Nanaimo Bars were a big part of my childhood and, every time we visit family in Vancouver, we are sure to load up on our favorite dessert. I love this version! Happy Canada Day (belated) to you!

  26. Karen says

    I will be happy to celebrate Canada Day if it means eating treats like this!! :)
    And even though I've done nothing but eat this weekend, I think I could still manage to put away a slice of this! Looks amazing!

  27. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    It's a little late, but Happy Canada Day! Your Nanaimo Bar looks so perfect! I didn't know about Nanaimo Bar. First I was thinking what's Nanaimo. My impression was actually if this was a Japanese word: Nana (seven) Imo (potato)… Ugh I'm not educated enough and I'm very embarrassed…

  28. Claudie says

    Happy Canada Day! :) A bit late, I know, but hopefully not too late to try your recipe. Because to be honest, I'd have this tart any day :)

  29. Nicky says

    I know you have the recipe for Nanaimo square posted here as well, but I wondered if this recipe would work for making in square form as well? You had mentioned you had done some tweaking to the recipe. I really want to make these as one of my much needed Christmas treats! Thanks for posting! I'm so excited to have found it!

  30. Carolyn says

    Hi Nicky,

    Everything about this tart would work perfectly in square form except for the crust. I ended up with too much crust, when I made the amount from the squares for this recipe, so I cut it back. So if you want to do this as squares, make the amount of crust from the original square recipe.


  31. twacy says

    HI..great recipe!
    I have a bit of good news!!
    You forgot to subtract the 2.6 grams of fiber from your carb total, so the actual net carbs in this divine goodness is actually 2.4
    Atkins Induction could even sneak this one in.:D
    Awesome recipe..thanks for posting

  32. korisa says

    I was wondering if there would be a way to avoid the sugar free pudding as it is loaded with aspartame? COuld you use the original Birds vanilla custard powder and then maybe a natural sweetener?

      • Heather from Canada says

        Hi Carolyn, would there be another way to do this without the aspartame pudding or Bird’s Custard? I was thinking either mixing your creme anglaise with the cream cheese, or making your sweetened condensed milk and mixing that with the cream cheese. Thanks!

        • Carolyn says

          Sure, I think the condensed milk is a great idea. You may need to thicken it a bit more with some powdered erythritol if it’s too thin.

          • Heather from Canada says

            Hi Carolyn, I’m making these today, trying out the substitution your sweetened condensed milk. Do you think these will freeze well? I know regular Nanaimo bars do. Will report back as to how the filling turns out…

          • Carolyn says

            I think they will freeze okay. The cream cheese in the filling may change in consistency a little, but I bet they will thaw and be *almost* as good.

          • Heather from Canada says

            These turned out really well, the filling is soft but I could cut them up easily if I used a very sharp, thin knife and didn’t let them sit on the counter first, just pull straight out of the fridge and slice. Filling: 5oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Beat until very fluffy. Add 1/2 cup low carb sweetened condensed milk, beat again. Spread over crust, chill as listed in recipe.

          • Heather from Canada says

            These froze and thawed perfectlyl!! So good I actually munched through a frozen one and had to force myself to let a piece thaw completely so that I could report back on it.

  33. Melody says

    I just made this for our July 4th celebration! It was fabulous. Thank you so much for posting alternative options for those of us with diabetes.


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