Raspberry Nanaimo Pops

We did it, pumpkins! We’ve made it through Thanksgiving and are now hurtling toward Christmas. Soon all the food blogs will be peppermint-this and gingerbread-that (including yours truly, natch) but before we jump to decking the halls, I want to share this sweet little lollipop recipe with you.

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops | SugarHero.com

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops are a variation on Nanaimo bars, which you may not be familiar with if you’re not a Canadian food aficionado. (What? I’m sure those must exist…somewhere…) They’re named after the town of Nanaimo in British Columbia, and they’re made of a crust of chocolate, graham, coconut, and nuts, topped with a creamy custard filling, and finished with a layer of thick chocolate.

Fun fact: Jason & I actually went to British Columbia on our honeymoon! Although our perception may have been slightly skewed because we went in the middle of a warm and sunny summer, it remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Since then, I’ve always felt a kinship to Nanaimo bars—I mean, they’re from Canada, and I’m practically Canadian because I visited that one time—so I’m happy to be spreading the word about this totally underappreciated cookie!

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops | SugarHero.com

My version of Nanaimo bars is a little different from the traditional recipe. For one thing, you may notice that they’re not bar-ish so much as pop-ish. I thought it would be cute to skewer little Nanaimo bites and dip them in chocolate instead of spreading the usual chocolate layer on top. The bars are so rich, they work best as 2-bite morsels anyhow, so making them into small lollipops makes them a more manageable, realistic size.

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops | SugarHero.com

The other break from tradition is making the filling raspberry flavored. I used pulverized freeze-dried raspberries, which give a really intense, sweet-tart flavor and bright pink color to the filling, without sacrificing the creamy texture. The same raspberry powder is sprinkled on top for a vivid, flavorful decoration.

These pops are timeless, of course, but since it is December, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they would be a cute addition to a cookie plate, or party buffet. Just sayin’.

P.S. I mentioned this on Instagram, but those stripey lollipop sticks? Yeah, I made those! I covered regular white sticks with some washi tape I had lying around, and it worked like  charm! It’s easy to apply and once it’s on, it doesn’t come unstuck or move around. I am so excited to washi tape aaaallll of my lollipop sticks from now on.

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops | SugarHero.com

Recipe Notes: The filling in Nanaimo Bars is traditionally made with custard powder, which adds a creamy texture and subtle flavor. Because the filling in this version has such a strong raspberry flavor, the custard powder is somewhat lost. I included it in the instructions below, but I don’t think the pops would lose anything (except authenticity!) if you were to omit it. You could also substitute an equal amount of instant vanilla pudding powder to give the filling a similar creamy texture. Additionally, the crust contains an egg that is cooked over a bain marie on the stovetop. If undercooked eggs are a big concern for you, consider using a pasteurized egg, or perhaps bake the crust in the oven to make sure the egg is fully cooked.

Raspberry Nanaimo Pops
Prep time
Total time
Raspberry Nanaimo Pops are bite-sized versions of nanaimo bars. They have crust made from chocolate, nuts, graham crackers, and coconut, and a sweet-tart raspberry cream filling. Dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with raspberry powder, they're a fun twist on the original!
Recipe type: Bar cookie
Serves: 24
For the Crust:
  • 1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 cracker sheets)
  • ½ cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
For the Raspberry Cream Layer:
  • 1.2 oz freeze-dried raspberries (to yield 1 cup raspberry powder)
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp custard powder (optional)
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
To Assemble:
  • 1 lb chocolate candy coating
  • 24 lollipop sticks
To Make the Crust:
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the graham crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts in a large bowl, and stir well.
  2. Fill a saucepan with about an inch of water, and place it over medium heat. Fit a double boiler or close-fitting metal bowl on top, and place the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in the double boiler. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the cocoa mixture and whisk continuously until it cooks and thickens. After a few minutes, the mixture will get very thick and shiny. If the fat seems to separate out, continue stirring or whisking until it reincorporates.
  4. Once cooked, scrape the cocoa mixture into the bowl with the graham crumbs and stir to combine until no dry streaks remain. Scrape the crust mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to press it into an even layer. Set it aside while you prepare the raspberry cream.
To Make the Raspberry Cream Layer:
  1. Place the freeze-dried raspberries in a food processor, and blend them until they are a fine powder. I like to stop when they’re not quite completely pulverized, to give the cream some texture.
  2. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat it until the butter is creamy. (Alternately, you can use a hand mixer and a large bowl.) Add the powdered sugar, custard powder if using, cream, and vanilla extract, and beat on low until combined. Scrape down the bowl, and then add ¾ cup of raspberry powder, reserving the rest of the powder for decorating. Turn the mixer to medium, and beat for about a minute until the buttercream has lightened in color and texture.
  3. Spoon the buttercream out onto the crust and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the pan until the buttercream layer is very firm and set, about 2-3 hours.
To Assemble:
  1. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut it into about 24 pieces—I cut it into 6 rows of 4 rectangular pieces each. Melt the chocolate candy coating in a medium bowl in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating.
  2. Use a wooden skewer to poke a hold in the crust of each piece. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick in the melted candy coating, then push it into the hole in the crust and place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment or waxed paper. Once all of the bars are skewered, refrigerate the tray briefly to make sure they’re very chilled and the coating that holds the lollipop sticks in place is set.
  3. Re-warm the candy coating, if necessary, then dip a pop in the coating, submerging it completely. Let excess coating drip back into the bowl, then place the dipped pop back on the baking sheet. While the coating is still wet, sprinkle the top with raspberry powder. Repeat until all of the pops are dipped. Refrigerate the tray to set the coating.
  4. Store Raspberry Nanaimo Pops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. For the best taste and texture, let them sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before eating.


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53 Responses to Raspberry Nanaimo Pops
  1. SO CUTE! Who wouldn’t be overjoyed to get a little box of these.

  2. Those lollipop sticks are so cute! I wonder if you could try that with straws …
    I have only heard of Nanaimo bars once or twice and have never tried them. Somehow, stuck on lollipop sticks makes the 10x more amazing! These WOULD make a fantastic addition to any cookie tray. The layers are really pretty and I like your twist on the flavors. Two thumbs up!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Mary Frances, I’d bet it would work well on thinner straws! Boba straws would probably be too thick for the tape to go all the way around (I wrapped it vertically) but the thin ones? Totally do-able! P.S. You should totally try Nanaimo bars, such a fun change from the typical bar cookie!

  3. Johlene says:

    I´ve never heard of Nanaimo bars before although I´ve been to Canada (but not that part.. would love to though..). These look so cute and I love the idea of making them into pops :-) Have a good week!!
    * Note to self: I have washi tape and I have lollipop sticks!!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Johlene! I don’t know why Canada is keeping these a secret, but I think the whole world should know about these bars–they’re so good! And YES, get busy with that washi tape! It makes such a big difference in the appearance of the pops!

  4. Danguole says:

    I’ve never had a Nanaimo bar, but I’ve been to BC–twice! We are so Canadian. It really is a gorgeous place, though Vancouver in November is freezing! Fun, but freezing.

    Speaking of gorgeous, excuse me while I admire these cuties. YUM.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Haha, I knew we made the right choice when we decided to go there in July. Seriously, we’re walking around, like, “This place is beautiful! Let’s move here! Surely it doesn’t get chilly in the wintertime, right?” Haha!

  5. These are adorable, and I love how the color from the raspberries just pops!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Ari! I’m usually the food coloring queen, so it was really nice to NOT have to use any this time, and get all the color from a natural source! Note to self, use raspberry powder more often…

  6. They really look yummy! I think I need to try and translate the recipe so I can make them aswell. :-) //Ester ❤ a creative life

  7. These are fantastic! I have a new respect for Canadian food aficionados! : )

  8. Ok I just want to eat them…can I? pls (pls, pls,pls)

  9. Wow!! These look so delicious!! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Cailee! I’m totally laughing at the juxtaposition of this recipe with your most recent blog post about preventing holiday weight gain…whoops. :)

  10. Liz says:

    These look and sound absolutely amazing! I love that you took a classic Canadian dessert and gave it a twist! Plus, since you’re part Canadian (wink, wink!) this is perfect! :)

  11. Ahhhhhhh aren’t these the cutest pops EVER!!!! they look sooooo cute!!!! Loveeee the colors and Washi tape is totally the coolest for wrapping these pop sticks and even when making cupcake toppers! This truly is an excellent party food idea! Today was the first time I was introduced to Nanaimo bars and if I do get a chance, I am definitely gonna taste it someday ’cause they sound HEAVENLY! For now though, I’m going to enjoy these pops! :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Samina! Nanaimo bars are a great bar cookie because they’re so different than most others, and it’s easy to switch up the flavors. Definitely give them a try sometime!

  12. These are gorgeous! That raspberry powder is the perfect touch on top :)I’ve heard of a Nanaimo bar but don’t think I ever really knew what it was…but holy cow, that combo sounds amazing, specifically with your flavor substitutes. Yum!!!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks Amy! Freeze-dried fruit is seriously one of my favorite ingredients! I would put it in every recipe but I’m not sure how easy it is for most folks to get a hold of, so I try to restrain myself and not add it to EVERYTHING…even though it basically goes with everything! [Okay I'm almost done talking about it but I have to add that these powders are amazing when mixed with whipped cream...raspberry cream, anyone?] Aaaanyhow, thanks so much!

  13. I want these pops in my life ASAP! You always have the most inspiring desserts.

  14. These nanaimo pops might just be the cutest dessert ever! And those sticks are simply beautiful ;)

  15. Sandra says:

    This is a wonderful recipe!! Thank you :)

  16. Ashley says:

    I’ve never had Nanaimo bars and only really heard about them recently (on other blogs!). These pops are just so darn cute! I love that color from the raspberry – so bright and pretty!

  17. I love these! They’re so cute!! Hooray for Christmas time :)

  18. Lisa says:

    Oh my stars! These look incredible and I love the striped sticks that match perfectly. Can’t wait to try them:)

  19. Sign me up for one/all of these bars. The colour of the filling is just amazing and that coconut chocolate base sounds delish!

  20. These are so tiny and cute! I’ve never had a nanaimo bar, but I’ve certainly heard of them. Love that you made these little adorable versions. And the raspberry cream! Oh my goodness.

  21. Dina says:

    i’ve always wanted to try nanaimo bars. this version with the raspberry cream looks amazing!

  22. I’ve been without a computer for a while, so I’m really behind on stalking your blog. These look so amazing! I’ve never had a nanaimo bar before, but I really want try one to now!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Without a computer? Is that even possible? ;) Thanks for stopping by–you should definitely give nanaimo bars a try if you ever have the chance!

  23. Elizabeth, I am ever so intrigued and SO excited to try your version! I love raspberries, they can only make things better. :-)

  24. Wow! Great idea!! And superb pictures!

  25. Vanessa says:

    I am doing my Christmas baking tomorrow, and would love to try these! The only problem is that I do not have any freeze-dried raspberries. I have regular frozen ones, and I was wondering if I might be able to work them in somehow to make a pink filling. What do you think?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Vanessa, my worry is that the frozen berries will make the filling too soft–you would either add just a small amount of berry puree, in which case the flavor won’t be strong, or you add enough for a good flavor, in which case the filling has a lot of liquid and doesn’t firm up very well. [It needs to be pretty firm when chilled, so you can cut it and dip the pops!] You could counteract this by adding more powdered sugar, but then it’s super-sweet, too! If you’re able to find raspberry flavoring or extract at the supermarket, that might be a better compromise.

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