Nanaimo Cheesecake


I have been dreaming about making this Nanaimo Cheesecake ever since I made these Nanaimo Bars a few months ago.

I basically took all the goodness of a Nanaimo Bar and married it with a cheesecake. And you better believe it’s the most delicious cheesecake you’ll ever consume.

Nanaimo Cheesecake

Nanaimo (pronounced Nuh-Nigh-Moe) is a city in British Columbia, Canada. That is where the Nanaimo Bar recipe was originated long ago.

The bottom layer of this cheesecake is a combination of cocoa, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and walnuts. It’s everything you would find in the bottom of the original bar, but made into a crisp and tasty cheesecake crust.

Nanaimo Cheesecake

I made the actual cheesecake portion with a standard vanilla cheesecake base, but I added some vanilla custard powder to the mix. That is an essential part of making a Nanaimo Bar, so I made sure to include it in this cheesecake.

It gives the cheesecake a super creamy texture that just melts in your mouth.

Nanaimo Cheesecake

The chocolate ganache that finishes off the top is also an essential element in a Nanaimo Bar, so I couldn’t leave it out of this Nanaimo Cheesecake. It adds a little bit… ok, a good amount… of sweetness to the top.

Overall, this Nanaimo Cheesecake is divine, delicious, decadent, and ultimately… perfect.

Nanaimo Cheesecake

I’m going to share a secret with you. Because a lot of you had the issue of a cracked cheesecake when you made my Pumpkin Cheesecake. There is a way to make your cheesecake look flawless even after it’s gotten a horrendous crack in it.

And yes- even this cheesecake had a rather large crack on top! But, it was easily fixed using this nifty trick!! Then I was able to pour the heavenly chocolate ganache over top without it seeping into the cheesecake. Watch –

Just make sure you have your cheesecake fully chilled before attempting to fix the crack. My crack was much larger than the one in the video and I was still able to fix it. :)

Nanaimo Cheesecake

I made this Nanaimo Cheesecake this past weekend and I had some girlfriends over for a little girl’s  night in, everyone just loved it.

I know you’ll love it too!

Nanaimo Cheesecake
For the Crust:
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup sweetened coconut flakes
For the Cheesecake
  • 4 (8oz) bricks of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp vanilla custard powder
For the Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Crust:
  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, coconut, cocoa powder, and sugar in a food processor and process until fine crumbs. Pulse in the vanilla and melted butter until moistened. Press into the bottom and a little up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, but keep oven on.
  2. Place a 9x13 baking dish on the bottom rack of your oven and fill with warm water.
For the Cheesecake:
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating in-between, and scrape down sides of bowl occasionally.
  2. Add the sour cream, sugar, vanilla and vanilla custard powder. Mix until smooth. Pour onto the prepared crust. Bake on the rack above the pan filled with water for 1 hour.
  3. Turn off the oven, crack it open slightly and leave in oven for 1-2 hours. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature completely. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for 2 hours. Fix any cracks, if necessary.
For the Ganache:
  1. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl, set aside. Heat the cream in the microwave for 1½ minutes, then pour on top of the chocolate chips. Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly, then carefully pour on top of the cheesecake. Refrigerate again until set. Enjoy!


  1. Thais is gorgeous, Shawn! YUM!

    • Thanks Dana!! :)

    • so the chocolate topping was disaster! Don’t actually know what heavy cream means so I used 18%. It ran off the pie like water. I tried putting in a salt/ice bath to cool but never did eat solid

      • I’m sorry Karen! Heavy cream has between 35% – 40% milk fat, so it’s about double what you used. You could try using regular milk, but start with just 1/2 cup and whisk until combined. If it’s too thick just add a little more until you get the right consistency. Hopefully the cheesecake was still delicious!

        • Whipping cream would be what I would use..

          • Danielle says:

            My topping was also a disaster. I used 33% whipping cream and with only one cup of chocolate chips (as per the recipe), it was like water. I ended up melting another cup and a half (so, 2.5 cups total) of chocolate chips in order to thicken it. Next time I will only use a half cup cream… Not sure why our ganaches would vary so greatly. Everything else about this cheesecake turned out great. Its our Easter Supper dessert for tomorrow. <3

          • That’s a bummer that the topping didn’t get thick for you. I’m glad you got it figured out by adding more chocolate chips. It must be a difference in the creams and chocolates, because that ratio always works for me? Hope you enjoyed the cheesecake! :)

  2. Woah nelly… these look so good! I have never had a Nanaimo bar, and feel like this might be some sort of sin. This cheesecake looks incredible.

  3. Need this! The cake….and your lighting set up. These pics look great!

  4. Pics turned out great! And the cheesecake sounds wonderful! :)

  5. Oh good gravy! That cheesecake looks incredible! Love this!

  6. Oh I love the way the pictures turned out! Looks so good!

    • Thanks Kristen! I’m happy with the way the photos turned out too! Although, I’m sure any lighting would still make this cheesecake look good! 😉

  7. Bravo! This cheesecake is to die for, as are your fab photos!

  8. Stunning! I’m going to share it tonight on facebook!

  9. This looks incredible Shawn!!

  10. where do you get vanilla custard powder?

  11. This looks delish! Is there a substitute for the custard powder, or just not use it–do you think it def. needs to be used for authentic flavor? Thank you!

    • Hi Mary, You can leave it out, but it does add just that little bit of custard flavor and texture which is specific to the Nanaimo Bar. I’m sure the cheesecake will still taste great without it. :)

  12. I could not be trusted around this delicious looking cheesecake. Hello delicious!

  13. I am a Nanaimo Bar freak, so it makes sense that I’m freaking out over this yummy cheese cake!

  14. Dine and Stitch says:

    I am from British Columbia and Nanaimo Bars are part of our Christmas celebration. This cheesecake will be on my table this year for Christmas . I have a friend here in Teacapan who is over the moon for Nanaimo Bars !!

  15. Hello, i do believe which i found a person went to my website and so i reached rewind this choose? . I’m just looking to locating what you should increase this site! I suppose it’s satisfactory make use of several of your opinions!

  16. recipe ask for vanilla custard powder…sells in England..dont think its available in USA…wondering if I can use something else…like vanilla pudding mix we have in envelopes??? this cake looks so yummy :)

    • Hi Ana, another commenter mentioned they were able to buy it at Cost Plus World Market, and the link in the recipe will take you to where you can purchase in on Amazon for just $6. And it lasts forever, so you won’t have to worry about wasting ingredients. :)

    • Hi Ana, I am from Nanaimo and have never used custard powder to make Nanaimo Bars. We have always used vanilla pudding mix and it works just fine for our Nanaimo Bars so I’m sure it will work well for the cheesecake.

    • My grandmother made nanaimo bars at christmas time when I was a kid over 40 years ago….she used vanilla pudding powder as well… just fine if you can’t find custard powder…..I actually made a nanaimo cheescake when i used to sell cheesecakes about 10 years ago….looked just like this one…and it is so amazing!!!

  17. Hi. Is it possible to make this cheesecake using a hand mixer. Standmixer is on my wish list. Sigh…

    • Hi Angela! Yes, you certainly can! Just make sure to whip the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy, and proceed like you would with the recipe directions. :)

  18. I’m ALL about the cheesecake yet never had a nanaimo bar before. Going to try this (someday)!

  19. I just made this cheesecake for tonight’s company and it went together really easily! Although I live in Nanaimo and my husband was born and raised here, I’ve never made Nanaimo Bars! My bad!! Just happened to have the Bird’s Custard Powder so all was well… I don’t have a Food Processor but I do have a little Braun Multi head thingy that has a tiny food processor attachment… I just ground all the crust ingredients up separately, threw them in a bowl and added the butter and vanilla and mixed it up by hand.. worked like a charm! Also, my husband is Celiac so I had to use gluten free graham crackers for the crust! Can’t wait until dessert!

  20. Thank you, Shawn. @ Diana- So how was dessert? Was it as good as it looks?

  21. I found the Birds custard powder in Market Basket. wasn”t even looking for it and there it was. Going to have to make the cheesecake soon. I live in Massachusetts.don”t know if there is any Market Basket supermarkets in any other states

  22. Curious, did you put two layers of ganache on for the photo?

  23. This looks heavenly! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try it!

  24. Nanaimo here too and thats the stuff we use. Never used pudding just custard powder. Gives traditional Nanaimo Bars the yellow color.

  25. I’m going to make this for Christmas! Do you think it would freeze well?

  26. I made this yesterday, put it in the fridge last night. I checked this morning and the chocolate on top is tacky. Is it not supposed to be hard?

    • Hi Tara, a ganache will not harden completely due to the addition of cream in the chocolate. That will make it easier to slice and bite into. :)

  27. This recipe sounds fab. I think I’ve found my Christmas dessert. I’ve been using vanilla powder in my recipes for a while now and never thought to put it in cheesecakes, duh!! I use it in cookies, cakes, even pancakes and the flavor makes my recipes even better. Good thinking girl. I’m off to the store to get cream cheese. Thanks.

  28. Genevieve Morrone says:

    This is a seriously deadly cheesecake! It has made my family rave about it for weeks! I will definitely be making it every year!

  29. If I don’t have a food processor, am I out of luck for the bottom layer? I make and love Nanaimo bars and can see how the traditional, chunkier bottom layer wouldn’t work as a cheesecake crust, but I’m stumped as to how to get the nuts and coconut small enough without a food processor.

    • I think if you put each component (coconut, graham crackers, nuts) in a blender and processed it until it was a fine crumb and then mixed them all together with the butter and other ingredients it would work as well. If you don’t have a blender you could try putting the graham cracker and nuts in a zip close bag and crushing them with a rolling pin till they are a fine crumb. Then chop the coconut as best you can and then mix with the remaining ingredients. Hope that helps! :)

  30. Do you think it would turn out just as tasty if I put mint flavouring in? Nanaimo Bars are a huge family favourite, though with mint in the middle. This looks like a really yummy spin on an old favourite though I’m not sure how the mint would be with cream cheese.

  31. I made this for desert for Christmas dinner…Everyone just loved it..of course those of us that are choco-holics loved it even more…actually have another one one in the oven as I type this…. DELICIOUS !!!!!!!

  32. If this is as good as Glenda’s bars it will be amazing. I’m gonna make this

  33. This looks devine! I am going to try halving the recipe to make in my mini cheesecake pan for a treat size piece , it usually calls for 2 boxes of cream cheese and takes 15 minutes to bake

  34. This looks fabulous! Recipe doesn’t say when to release from spring firm psn. Before refrigerator chilling or after?

    • Hi Vicki, I like to keep the spring form on while it’s chilling in the fridge. I’ll run a knife around the edges just to make sure nothing is sticking and then carefully release the form. Cover it with the ganache and then I store it covered in the fridge with the spring form back on. I like to think this protects the cheesecake from anything bumping it in the fridge. Hope that helps!

      • Yes..thanks so much for the details! I haven’t made a cheesecake in years and remember the pan removal being the trickiest part. Looking forward to making this!

  35. This looks soooo delicious!
    I cannot wait to try it.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe :)
    Is it ok if I prepared it earlier and kept it refrigerated for 24 hours before serving? Or you think it will not taste as fresh?
    Another question.. is the water pan necessary? I have only one rack in the oven but I have a big pan that fits in the rack place, so can I pour water in that pan and fit it in the lower part of the oven or does it have to be the pan size you mentioned?
    Thank you :)

  36. Hi Shawn! If I do this in a 9-inch springform – how much will I need to adjust the bake time?

    • Hi Heather, I’m not sure on how much longer it would take. I would say to just keep an eye on it until the center is not jiggly. Then just let it cool like you would per the instructions.

  37. It looks so good!

  38. If you bake the cheesecake in a baine marie/ water bath it will not crack and dont mix it too much. I love nanaimo bars and will definitely try this cheese cake, it looks yummy.

  39. I felt like celebrating life this weekend so I ccoked up a storm and decided to also make this cheese cake this weekend. It was super. I had to make some adjustments though. Although I set the oven at 350 degrees the cheesecake was set within half an hour and the top was brown so I quickly turned off the oven ,opened the door a bit and left it there for two hours. I left it on the counter for another 2 hours and then refrigerated it over night .I also had to adjust the ganache too. I followed the recipe but the mixture was too runny, so I poured half of the mixture in a separate bowl and added another cup of chocolate chips to it. That was perfect. I used the other half on vanilla ice cream. That was heavenly.
    I live in the Caribbean so maybe that is why the first ganache mixture was a bit thin. But no love lost I got two for one. Topping for the cheese cake and ice cream. Great recipe my husband had two helpings. Thanks.

  40. Carol Farndon says:

    Hello, I was very surprised to see your recipe for Nanaimo Cheesecake, a friend posted on Facebook earlier today. I just had to check it out, as I wondered how on earth you had come across the Nanaimo Bars recipe in the first place. Glad to see you have visited our neck of the woods and have come up with this wonderful cheesecake recipe.

    Nanaimo Bars have been a part of my life since I was a little girl, over 60 years ago. My mother always made them for birthdays, as well as other celebrations. I continue the tradition with my family.

    Because I live so close to Nanaimo, it was very interesting to see how far these bars have traveled. No one, I believe, has ever found out where these bars came from and who was the first to make them, but with wonderful bakers, as yourself, to strive for even better recipes, they will continue to be served perhaps even world wide.

    Thank you for your hard work, I’ve just signed up for your inbox recipes…all the best to you and yours!

    • Thank you for your sweet comment Carol! I’m so glad you found my recipe and site, I sure hope you enjoy all the recipes! :)

      • Carol Farndon says:

        Thank you Shawn, I’m very sure I will…you have a wonderful web site and I look forward to seeing more of your recipes. Cheers for now!

  41. I live in Comox, an hour away from Nanaimo,
    I just made this for a party tonight,
    if the filling tastes as good cooked as it done on the spoon last night
    it will be a winner :)

    • Carol Farndon says:

      Way to go Elke, I live in Victoria, also an hour away from Nanaimo and I can’t wait to give this a try…I bet it was successful tonight!

  42. I am allergic to nuts. Any suggestions to adjust the base recipe if I leave out the walnuts?

    • Bill Baker says:

      Sharon. I would think just leaving the nuts out and it would be fine. I have made regular Nanaimo bars without the nuts with no problems.

  43. I’m thinking of making this but I only have a 9 inch springform. Can I just extend the baking time?

    • Hi Amy, I am not sure if the cheesecake would fit in the 9″ springform, but you can give it a try. I would just bake until the center has risen and is only slightly jiggly. Just keep an eye on it! :)

  44. Just wondering do you use 32 oz of cream cheese? Or 8 oz?

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