Nanaimo Bars are, perhaps, Canada’s most famous dessert. The legend goes that they originated in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island (which, while not Nanaimo, is very close). Mabel Jenkens submitted the recipe to a bake sale, and the bars rapidly gained notoriety from there.
Nanaimo Bars are recognizable for their chocolate, coconut, and walnut base, custardy buttercream filling, and chocolate topping. I miss them very much now that I’m deathy allergic to coconut and nuts. So it goes.
I've seen a lot of misleading recipes for Nanaimo Bars around (ahem, SAVEUR), but this one is the real deal. Trust.
To see more pictures and read about how my mom made these bars famous in New Zealand, head over to Leanne Bakes
Nanaimo Bars Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the first 3 ingredients. Add egg and vanilla and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (Bird’s is our favourite)
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cream ingredients until smooth and light. Spread over bottom layer.
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.