Nanaimo Bars for Alpha Bakes

This month's randomly generated letter for Alpha Bakes is 'N' and coincidentally I've wanted to make these Nanaimo bars for a while this was the perfect opportunity. This is also a no bake recipe which was ideal for me as I've just moved home and haven't quite fathomed out how to work the oven yet!
A Nanaimo bar consists of three layers - the bottom layer is made from crushed biscuits, butter, cocoa powder and eggs, these also have walnuts and desiccated coconut. The middle layer is a combination of icing sugar, butter, custard powder and cream, then the whole thing is topped off with a layer of chocolate ganache.
You may be wondering where the name Nanaimo comes from, it is in fact a town on Vancouver Island, Canada. You can just about see on the map below that is across a stretch of water from the city of Vancouver...and I have in fact actually visited Nanaimo...but I don't remember trying a Nanaimo bar!
The recipe first came about in the 1950s when a Canadian housewife submitted her recipe for inclusion in a WI cookbook. When published the recipe became extremely popular and the coffee shops in Nanaimo started to sell the a result they then became known as Nanaimo bars and since then their popularity has spread all over Canada and beyond!
These Nanaimo bars were well received by the taste testers, although they're very rich and you only need a little square. Making all the layers coupled with the chilling also takes a little time but they were worth the effort.
Alpha Bakes is a monthly challenge hosted by Ros at the More than Occasional Baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes.



300g digestive or rich tea biscuits
170g butter
75g caster sugar
45g cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g desiccated coconut
75g roughly chopped walnuts


85g butter
345g icing sugar
3 tbsp custard powder
100 ml double cream


225g dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa) chopped
200ml double cream
40g unsalted butter

Use a 23 x 33 cm baking tray and then line the base and sides with foil.

Firstly, crush the biscuits (either digestive or rich tea), you can do this in a food processor or alternatively in a bag with a rolling pin. Put this to one side and begin melting the butter in a medium to large saucepan. Once fully melted remove from the heat and mix in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually beat in the eggs. It is maybe advisable to have all the ingredients weighed out beforehand. At this stage I also used a balloon whisk to blend the ingredients. Return the the saucepan to the heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat again and stir in the vanilla, biscuit and coconut. This mixture is then ready to press into the bottom of the baking tray. It should be firmly pressed in and the top should be even. Chill for at least 1 hour.

For the next layer make sure the butter is nice and soft. This can then be beaten until really light and fluffy. Once at this stage the icing sugar can be beaten in until smooth. To prevent the icing sugar flying everywhere cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. Finally, add the custard powder and cream and beat again on a high speed until the mixture is lovely and fluffy. Spread this layer over the first again making sure it's even. Chill for 30 minutes.

To make the third and final layer, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a bowl. Then gently head the cream in a saucepan until it is just boiling, when it reaches this stage pour it over the top of the chocolate and leave for around 2 minutes. You can then gently stir the mixture until it is smooth. Add the butter and stir again, this should give you a smooth ganache. Pour over the custard layer and spread evenly. Chill again until it appears set.

Once the whole thing has set you can cut it into squares with a sharp knife. This recipe can make up to 40 squares depending on how small you cut them! A top tip is to dip the knife in hot water for a few seconds (and then wiping it dry) before cutting as this will give a nice clean cut.

* Adapted from the Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber