- 20 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 sticks)
- 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup almond flour (or heaping 1/2 cup almonds, ground)
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons dry powdered milk (or dry instant vanilla pudding mix or Bird’s Custard Powder 300g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate (I used 6 ounces of 72% chocolate and 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Prepare an 8-by-8-inch pan by lining with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray (you must line the pan and foil is highly recommend over parchment, which shifts around inside the pan too much); set pan aside.
For the Base Layer – In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick). Remove pan from the heat and add the granulated sugar, cocoa powder, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the egg. Return pan to low heat and cook for about 90 seconds, stirring continuously, just until the mixture thickens slightly and this also gently heats and cooks the egg. Remove pan from heat and add graham cracker crumbs, coconut flakes, almonds, and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, pressing evenly into the bottom in a smooth flat layer; set aside.
For the Middle Layer – To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), confectioners’ sugar (I started out with 2 1/2 cups but found 3 cups was better and made mixture thicker and less runny), cream, powdered milk (I do not think that the powdered milk, vanilla pudding, or custard mix is truly necessary, but classic Nanaimo bars use it; I wouldn’t race out and buy it if I didn’t have it on hand), vanilla and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until smooth and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Spread over chocolate base layer; set aside.
For the Top Layer – In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick) and chocolate and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute and whisk to combine. Heat in 15-second increments until mixture can be whisked silky and smooth. Carefully spread over vanilla layer, taking your time and being very careful with your knife or spatula as not to muddle the layers. Place pan into refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until set; overnight is fine. I would err on the side of longer as not to have a mess when you slice into them. Slice into modest squares, approximately 1 to 2-inches each, as bars are very rich.