Nanaimo Bars are a true Canadian classic dessert. Delicious layers of chocolate crumb crust, vanilla custard filling and rich chocolate coating.
I do not know any Canadian baker that does not have a recipe for Nanaimo Bars somewhere in a fundraiser cookbook, recipe card, or scribbled in a notebook. These tasty, sweet treats bring back some very fond memories of my Mom baking for the Holidays. She or someone in our large family always prepared them for the Christmas baking tray or other special occasions. My Mom was a great baker and this is her classic Nanaimo bar recipe. As well, she also made another exceptional Canadian dessert, Old Fashioned Butter Tarts!
Chopped nuts are often included in the chocolate base layer of Nanaimo squares. I enjoy these treats either way, but my son is allergic to nuts so I leave them out. It was actually the good old Nanaimo bar that gave him his first allergic reaction at three years old. We went from having a great time at a Christmas party to the Emergency Ward!
What nuts could be added?
Chopped walnuts are the most common.
Chopped almonds also taste great
- Layer 1
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 ¾ cups graham wafer crumbs
- 1 cup coconut
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds optional
- Layer 2
- ½ cup soft butter
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder I like Bird's Brand
- 2 cups icing sugar confectioners' sugar
- Layer 3
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Bottom layer
- Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in heavy saucepan (medium-low heat).
- Add egg and stir to cook and thicken.
- Remove from heat, stir in graham crumbs and coconut (also nuts if you want to add them).
- Press firmly into 9x9 inch pan.
- Second Layer
- Using a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.
- Add milk, custard powder and icing sugar.
- Beat until and fluffy and the color turns a pale yellow.
- Spread evenly over the bottom layer.
- Third Layer
- Melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat.
- Cool, but only to point chocolate is still runny, yet won't melt the custard layer.
- Spread on top of custard layer.
- Refrigerate until set.
- Cut with sharp knife into 36 squares.