True Squares.
An offering from The Fella’s Father

Last week I received an unsolicited email from the fella’s father.

He wanted to talk about squares. Not the mathematical kind, the edible kind. True squares to be specific.

That led to an email exchange about True squares which I would like to share with you now.


Hi Karen,
If you’re still in the market for a true list I offer the following:
The Fella’s Father:


There are three true squares and one honourary true square. All other “squares” are nothing but overdecorated, unappetizing sugary horrors that ought to be scraped into the garbage at once. The true squares are:

The Nanaimo bar, aka the Mabel bar, perfection on a paper napkin, the pride of Vancouver Island and the only true square that doesn’t require baking.
The date square (real oats only, no instant porridge mix—ever.)
The brownie (NO NUTS!)
The honourary true square is the lemon square. I don’t like them myself and would sooner open up a vein with a rusty fork than eat one, but I put it on the list to show I am broadminded and open to new ideas.

With the exception of the Nanaimo bar, true squares require baking. If you’re making something with crème de menthe, Jell-o or Rice Crispies and the recipe says to refrigerate, you’re not making a square, you’re making a mess.

True squares should measure at least two inches per side. Church ladies take note: Nothing mars a funeral like the puny half-inch squares served up after the rites. Make them bigger.


This email prompted an immediate reply from me. What about the peanut butter square?  Was that not a true square?  It’s either covered in chocolate, or at the very least offers a delicious chocolate base.  What about this as a true square?   Was there room on the list for this?  Or fudge?  If it was cut into a square was fudge not a square?  What about a square of fudge?  Or a coconut square?  These all seem like viable options to me.  What about them?

My email went unnoticed.  He still hasn’t replied.

Other than a single lined email that said “I’m giving true meats some thought.” I haven’t heard from him since.  Last I heard he was seen wearing a tin foil hat picketing the doors of the hamburger bun factory that recently added a whole grain option to their product list.


[print_this]Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer
½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ c. finely 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 8″ pan.

Second Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

(recipe from the Nanaimo, B.C. website)



  1. laury says:

    Nanaimo Bar….Bar not square..

  2. Carol says:

    Ok I read this and made the Nanaimo Bars for a BBQ gathering were a baker and a chef were present … they were a hit. I, who absolutely hate butter cream in any form, was presently surprised … thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! As far as I can remember, *I’ve* never even made Nanaimo bars! I have eaten my fair share though. :) Glad they were worth the work! ~ karen

  3. Leonie says:

    Our pantries in Australia have custard powder in them as a staple. Used for the making of Yoyo’s, Custard sponges, Vanilla slices (maybe a true square)to name a few…. It is a powdered cornflour (cornstarch)not sweet, with vanilla flavour that turns yellow when added to wet ingredients. hope that helps.

  4. Janelle says:

    I lived in Nanaimo for years and nobody was ever able to tell me why Nanaimo bars aren’t called Nanaimo squares. To me, a bar has to be rectangular, like a bar of gold, or a chocolate bar. Also, hooray for Fella’s Father for calling them “date squares”. When people call date squares matrimonial cake it really sticks in my craw.

  5. Jen says:

    What a nut! I love him!!

  6. Sharon says:

    And here is the Nanaimo Bar . It’s #9 on the list!

  7. The Fella's Father's Wife says:

    Just feel I need to make something clear here.
    Yes. The fella’s dad does indeed have a true wife, but JUST ONE. There are no 4 or 5 true wives, or true mistresses or true Hos. Just me. Just one, glorious and true wife.

  8. Valerie says:

    Custard powder inquiries: most countries will sell “puddings” in little boxes in their grocery stores to which one adds milk. There are two types of puddings: the instant type (powdered) to which you add milk and beat and then simply pour into dessert cups and this will set in about 10 minutes. The other type available is a powdered concoction to which you add milk and heat to a boil and then pour into dessert cups about an hour before serving. In lieu of the famous Bird’s custard powder I have used the “cooked” type of pudding (vanilla flavoured) and had my Nanaimo bars turn out perfectly.Two companies that put this type of pudding out in Canada – North America are Jello and Sheriffs.

  9. Melissa says:

    How do you pronounce “Nanaimo”? I have a recipe book that has them, and I’ve always wondered. Is it NAN-aye-moh? Or Nanah-EE-moh? Or something else entirely? Clueless in Connecticut…

  10. Melody says:

    Could you stick a photo on this post? I’d like to pin it!

  11. carol says:

    Nothing with coconut. No. Not ever.

  12. AnnW says:

    I think the fella’s father looks more like Sean Connery. No Peter Falk involved. Maybe a little Peter O’Toole. Does he have a “true wife?”

  13. Sara says:

    Blondies? No blondies? Only brownies. Huh. Martha Stewart had a recipe for Nutella blondies that sounded very nice. I’ll be sure to not tell the fella’s father if ever I decide to make them. :)

  14. Another Karen says:

    These sound delicious! I’ll make them next month when I return from vacation. I just hope I can cut a square squarely. Will it work if I make rectangles?

  15. rktrixy says:

    For those of us who are not Canadians (and sadder for it, I think) is custard powder the same as instant pudding?

    Just curious.

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