These mocha bars (aka peanut cake squares) were one of my grandmother’s favorites to serve when friends and family would come over for coffee. The recipe is from a community cookbook compiled by the ladies sewing circle of the small rural church she attended.
What happened to coffee hour?
Not so long ago we stopped by for coffee. I am not talking about meeting at a local national-brand specialty beverage company, I am talking about dropping by a neighbor’s house for a nice cup of joe. No skinny-half-fat-120-degree-tall-decaf-with-three-pumps-of-vanilla; just a simple cup of coffee.
The coffee grounds were scooped from a tin can into the perforated basket of the percolator which was placed on the stove or, more recently, into the paper filter of a pour-over coffee maker. When the percolating stopped or the steady stream ceased, the black coffee was poured into sturdy mugs. And more often than not, a home baked goodie was offered. Cream and sugar, of course, would be available.
My grandmother served these Mocha Bars when neighbors would stop by to share a cup of coffee and discuss the week’s happenings or to just take a break from the responsibities of homesteading. Cream was pulled up from the water of the well-house – she didn’t have the luxury of a refrigerator – and the percolator would be set atop the wood-burning stove.
As my Auntie Kay recalls, Grandma always had a batch of these peanut cakes at the ready to be served with a hot cup of coffee. Maybe the sweetness of these handmade specialties helped to assuage some of the loneliness that comes from living on a homestead. Maybe they were a reminder of family and friends left in far away lands. Whatever the case, these Mocha Bars are the perfect compliment to a dark cup of coffee. Maybe you will serve them at your next coffee hour. I sure hope so.
Mocha Bar Recipe
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 3 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons cream
- 3 cup finely ground peanuts
- Heat oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 9” x 13” pan.
- In a clean, dry, large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form when beater is lifted. Set aside.
- With mixer on medium speed beat butter until softened and light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until very light, scraping down sides. Turn mixer to low and mix in coffee until completely combined.
- In a medium bowl, combine flours and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into batter being careful not to overmix.
- Gently stir a quarter of the egg whites into batter. Folder the remaining egg whites into the batter.
- Pour in to prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes until the cake springs back lightly. Cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan onto a wire cooling rack. When completely cool, cut into 24 squares.
- To make frosting, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter until softened and light in color, about 3 minutes. Lower speed and add cream, mixing to incorporate completely. On lowest speed, add powdered sugar, beat until smooth and creamy.
- Frost all sides of cakes and roll in chopped peanuts.