By many accounts, Nanaimo bars came into existence when a Nanaimo housewife entered her no-bake squares into a magazine contest. Though we see several sources citing that it was "about 35 years ago", though we were not able to locate the name of the entrant or the magazine in which it was published. However, the legend goes on to say that when the recipe was published, it put both the bar and the town on the map.
But then again, according to Wikipedia, the earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe "Nanaimo Bars" appears in a publication entitled His/Hers Favorite Recipes, Compiled by the Women's Association of the Brechin United Church, with the recipe submitted by Joy Wilgress (p.52); this publication is not dated, but is circa 1950s.
The top layer is a solid chocolatey layer, which is firm but not hard.
The middle layer is a buttery, frosting-y, creamy, custard-y stuff that is so much the opposite of low-fat that it makes you want to weep with pleasure.
The bottom layer is a sturdy, tightly packed layer of chocolate, graham cracker and coconut, bound together with melted butter
All I know is that they are wonderful and they are fun to make and they are a no bake dessert everyone will love.
If you don't have a double boiler use a stainless steel bowl set on top of a sauce pan with gently simmering water.
Bottom Layer - make first
½ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ c. chopped almonds
1 cup coconut
Melt first 3 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" x 12" pan or glass baking dish. Use a rolling pin to make sure it is even all around.
Middle Layer - make second
½ cup butter
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder ( if you don't have or can't find custard powder, instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
2 cups sugar
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and sugar together well. Beat until light and fluffy. Spread over bottom layer an even thickness all over.
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low, low heat. Cool a bit . Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
This makes about 10 big squares or 20 bar shaped pieces.