Ann (nee Joyce) Johnson and I’ve recognized one another since our plaid-skirt-sporting days at Fargo Shanley Excessive, and she or he is one in every of my oldest and dearest pals. I am going to always remember when she launched me to her household’s well-known peanut bars, as a result of I assumed I had died and gone to heaven. For those who’re a fan of the salted nut roll sweet bar, or only a lover of candy treats, then this recipe is for you.
A 5-era Christmas custom within the Joyce household, this recipe has been handed right down to Ann and her household by her father, Dr. Michael Joyce of Fargo. Dr. Joyce (Mike) started making these bars together with his mom and grandmother as a boy of seven or eight, rising up in Tioga, N.D. Again then, they shelled the peanuts by hand and used a guide grinder to crush them. This was, certainly, a labor of affection.
A scorching milk cake types the middle of those bars, and this old style cake has a stunning, moist texture and agency, velvety crumb. Entire milk is cooked till nearly boiling, then faraway from warmth and allowed to chill some earlier than being added to the batter.
I requested Mike why the milk wanted to be boiled if it was used when principally cool. He wasn’t positive and thought maybe the rationale might be so simple as meals security, because the milk in his grandmother’s day wouldn’t have been pasteurized. After some analysis, I’ve discovered that scalding the milk additionally supplies taste for the cake.
The cake wants to chill earlier than shifting on to the subsequent step, and Ann suggested me that she typically prepares it the night time earlier than assembling the bars. As soon as cooled, the cake is minimize into one-inch squares, which can initially seem small in measurement till they’re coated on all sides with a luscious vanilla buttercream frosting and rolled in crushed peanuts.
Upon marrying his pretty spouse, Joan, 50 years in the past, Mike declared that these peanut bars can be one of many first vacation traditions they might share collectively, a dedication they’ve honored annually for the previous half-century. Initially, the peanuts have been unsalted, however Mike and Joan have discovered even higher outcomes through the use of salted peanuts.
Whereas the addition of recent know-how has definitely improved the cooking course of, making these bars at present continues to be one thing of a manufacturing, and one that’s significantly enhanced by the inclusion of others, particularly youngsters.
Mike was delighted to share his household’s particular recipe with me, and once I lately visited with him, he stated with a smile, “I’m positive my mom and grandmother are smiling now, simply eager about it.” I am…