Susan Mendelson’s Nanaimo Bars

Adapted from The CanLit Cookbook, compiled by Margaret Atwood in 1987.

made these as a birthday gift for my nephew. Susan will forgive me for doubling the cocoa, deepening the custard centre, and sprinkling Maldon salt on top!

Nanaimo Bars

Makes 1 8” x 8” pan/ 36 squares.

Layer 1

½ c.


¼ c.




1 t.


2 T.


2 c.

graham cracker crumbs

1 c.

shredded coconut

½ c.

chopped nuts

Layer 2

3/8 c.


¼ c. + 2 T.

milk or cream

3 c.

icing sugar

3 T.

custard powder

Layer 3

4 oz.

semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2 T.


a sprinkling of flaky salt (Maldon)


Line an 8” x 8” pan with enough parchment that it hangs over by 2” on all sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and cocoa in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk well until it thickens, then add crumbs, coconut and nuts. Mix well, and pack firmly into the pan, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Chill for 15 minutes.

Cream the butter in a mixer, then add the milk or cream and mix well – it will look curdled. Scrape down, then add half the icing sugar and the custard powder. Mix on slow to combine. Add the remaining icing sugar, blend to combine, then beat on high speed for 3 minutes until fluffy. Spread over the bottom layer, smoothing with a small palette knife. Chill for 15 minutes.

Melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water or in a microwave on 75 percent power for 1 minutes. Stir well, then smooth over the second layer. Cool briefly, then sprinkle scantly with salt and chill.

Remove the square as a whole from the pan by lifting the parchment and placing on a cutting surface. Slice into small squares with a large knife, cleaning it under hot water in between slices.

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