The small city of Nanaimo in British Columbia is probably most known for its Nanaimo Bars. The sweet treats require no baking and consist of three layers — a crumbly, wafer-like base; a layer of custard icing; and finally a thin layer of melted, hardened chocolate.
Cafes, bakeries and restaurants in Nanaimo all make their bars differently (there’s great debate as to whether or not the traditional recipe calls for almonds or walnuts in the bottom layer). There are plenty of varieties, too. Bocca Cafe (427 Fitzwilliam St., Nanaimo, BC) has an original version, peanut butter (think a tastier Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup), cappuccino and a spicy sweet concontion that has chili pepper in it.
Nanaimo even has something called the Nanaimo Bar Trail, which is a self-guided tour that will take you to the many different locations that offer this delectable treat.
Here is a recipe taken from the Nanaimo Museum, which has its own display about the bar’s history. Recipe by Joyce Hardcastle.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (European-style cultured)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first three ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8×8 pan.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 ounce each)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. When cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.