When I was a kid we had a good-sized grocery store right near the town’s fire department. I always thought that store was huge, and compared to our two little neighborhood stores I grew up with, it was. It had its own bakery which was pretty complete. I was so impressed with that ‘big’ store. Little did I know it would mean the end of the two little neighborhood stores, as well as the small, owner-owned and run local bakery. Anyway I remember two things from that bakery. I remember the coffee cake with its perfect icing. When we had a big breakfast, meaning eggs and bacon, we usually had that coffee cake. The best part was the leftover coffee cake. My mother would make the best french toast with it the next day. The other memorable bakery item was the peanut squares. They were a favorite of just about everyone in the family. Sweet and a bit salty with a flavorful, dense cake center they were delicious. I have tried for some time to duplicate those peanut squares and I think this recipe finally does it. The pale cake is almost like a sponge cake. I like to frost them with just a thin layer of frosting, but you may like to slather it on! Dredged in peanuts they taste just like I remember them. Oh my they are so delicious, and a nice change from the more typical chocolate desserts and bars. Unless my memory fails me – which could be – these are exactly right! No matter, they are now one of my favorites.
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cup flour
2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
Frosting (Use fat-free milk for fat-free frosting!)
2 lbs powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
6 cups finely chopped peanuts. I like to use ¼ salted, and the remainder unsalted.
In large bowl mix the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir together all the dry ingredients and slowly mix into the egg mixture. Add the milk and butter and mix well. The cake batter is very yellow at this point, especially if you have fresh eggs. When finished baking it will be a pale yellow, almost white cake. Pour batter into a buttered 13 x 9 pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until cake pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on rack. Once cool cut into squares, remove from and pan, and freeze 3 hours or overnight.
Prepare the frosting by adding all the ingredients and beating until smooth and thick. Frost squares while frozen. Poke a dinner fork into the bottom of each square as you frost them for easy handling. Frost the sides and top of the frozen squares so frosting is smooth and even. Roll in peanuts, covering the top and all the sides evenly. Place on wire rack and allow to air-dry 10 minutes. Store in airtight container.