Canadian Classic No-Bake Nanaimo Bars

Photo by Laura D'Alessandro

What’s more bare-chested-Canadian than filling your flannel-covered gut with sugary baking, then curing your subsequent stomachache with free healthcare? How about an almost entirely sugar-based treat named after one of Canada’s randomest cities? I present to you – Nanaimo Bars.

The nice thing about thembesides fulfilling your patriotic dutyis that because they’re layered, you can make the bottom layer, and while that’s cooling, make the middle layer, and while that’s cooling, make the top layer. It looks like a lot of waiting for things to chill, but the timing actually works out quite nicely.

For a treat that put a town of 40,000 on the map and millions to the dentist, Nanaimo bars are deceptively easy to make, despite costing your first-born child at Starbucks. So lace up your good moose-skin apron and give’r.

Bottom layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups crushed cookies
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  1. In a saucepan over low heat melt the butter, stir in the sugar and cocoa, then add the egg
  2. Cook, constantly whisking for 2-3 minutes until thick
  3. Take off the heat and stir in vanilla, cookies and coconut
  4. Press the mix into the bottom of a 9×9 pan (I take out all my rage by smashing it down hard with the bottom of a measuring cup)
  5. Leave in the fridge until completely cold

Filling (middle layer):

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp custard powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Optional: ½ tsp of mint extract, if you’re super fancy and want to be minty-fresh
  1. Whip the butter in an electric mixer, then add all other ingredients (slowly add the powdered sugar on a low speed so it doesn’t poof everywhere)
  2. Spread the mix on top of the bottom layer and cool in the fridge

Top layer:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Boil a small pot of water and place a heatproof bowl over the top
  2. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until it melts (if it seems too stiff add more butter)
  3. Spread over filling and cool. Enjoy, you crazy Canuck.