The Nanaimo bar—an intensely sweet 1950s-era refrigerator confection—takes its name from a city on Vancouver Island in Canada, even though it was quite possibly created in the nearby town of Ladysmith (which receives the consolation prize of being Pamela Anderson's birthplace). Some might call it Canada's national dessert, as its popularity has since spread far beyond British Columbia. The no-bake square consists of a chocolate-, almond-, and coconut-enriched graham crust supporting a dense layer of buttercream, topped with a slick of semisweet chocolate. The tricky part is eating one cleanly. The heat from one's fingers begins the Nanaimo bar's descent into deliciously melting chaos. It's best held delicately on the sides, between thumb and index finger, minimizing surface contact so each bite possesses the sugary interplay of cool chocolate, soft icing, and chewy base. —David Sax, SAVEUR contributing editor
Enlarge Image Credit: Penny de los SantosSERVES 8–10
INGREDIENTS20 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup ground almonds
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
INSTRUCTIONS1. Heat 8 tbsp. butter, cocoa, and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth; stir in crumbs, coconut, almonds, and egg. Transfer to a parchment paper—lined 8"x 8" baking pan and press evenly into bottom; set aside.
2. Beat 8 tbsp. butter, confectioners' sugar, cream, powdered milk, and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed of a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy; spread over chocolate layer.
3. Melt remaining butter and chocolate in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat; spread over vanilla layer. Chill until set, at least 4 hours. Cut into squares to serve.
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