Joyce Family’s Famous Peanut Bars

 

Makes: about 4 dozen

Ingredients:
2 cups whole milk, boiled
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs, well beaten
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional

Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Nut Coating:
4 to 6 cups roasted and salted peanuts, crushed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over medium -low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and bubbles just begin to form around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool until just warm or lukewarm (if too hot when added to the batter, the eggs may scramble).

Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer to mix the eggs until they are well beaten, about 1 minute on medium-low speed. Add the sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is pale yellow and nearly tripled in volume, at least five minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Set your mixer on the lowest speed setting and slowly add the warm milk mixture until combined. If using vanilla, add it now. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again on medium speed for 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder, then add to the batter all at once. Mix on medium-low speed just until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter appears smooth.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and then firmly tap the pan several times (6-8) on the countertop to release the air bubbles – this will prevent air pockets from forming in the cake.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and springs back when touched with a finger. A toothpick may also be inserted into the middle of the cake to check for doneness, and should come out clean with the exception of a few crumbs at the tip.

Cool cake completely before cutting into 1-inch cubes. Cake may be refrigerated for up to one week before slicing.

For the frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use a stand or handheld mixer to whip until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. If refrigerated, bring frosting to room temperature and mix again before using.

To Assemble:
1) Cut cake into 1-inch squares.
2) Use a knife or offset spatula to apply a layer of frosting evenly on all sides of each cake square.
3) Roll frosted cake square in crushed peanuts until evenly coated on all sides.
4) Set finished peanut bars on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days, or in the freezer. To freeze, place the bars on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze until hard to the touch, about an hour. Transfer to a cookie tin or other airtight container, separating layers with parchment or wax paper. May be frozen for up for up to one year. Let frozen bars sit at room temperature for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Use a food processor or grinder to easily crush the peanuts.
  • A small offset spatula is ideal to apply the frosting.
  • The cake may be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated or frozen, uncut, until ready to use.
  • The frosting may be made several days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Let frosting sit at room temperature until soft and spreadable.