Submitted by Anne Malm-Hossfeld Minnetonka, MN
Hi, Gwen. Thanks for the answer. I do have a family recipe for them, and it’s the history I’ve been trying to track down, because I thought my family invented them (!), but then I heard they’re a genuine Norwegian thing. If you’ve had them, that’s great, because it means others out there are making them too. You might be interested in my story.
I grew up with a recipe for “Aunt Sophie’s” peanut bars. Sopie Quam Shirley was my Norwegian grandmother’s sister and lived in Minot, ND, where she helped out in her husband’s family’s grocery store – Shirley’s Grocery (AKA Sjolie). The recipe I have was written in a cookbook my grandmother wrote for me in which she wrote down some of her own recipes. The recipe is for a sponge cake and a very rich butter frosting. You cut the sheet cake in long pieces or squares, frost all sides, and roll them in chopped, salted Spanish peanuts.
I was at a Duluth antique store last year and was talking to a man who grew up in Minot. I mentioned the Shirley’s grocery store, and he remembered it. I mentioned Sophie who made “her own recipe” for “something called” peanut bars, and at least 3 other people at the counter said, Oh, yes, peanut bars, mocha bars, they’re Norwegian! I’d never heard this. The man from Minot said his son had married a Norwegian woman, and at the wedding in Norway, they served them on the dessert tray, although they were covered in ground almonds, which I guess is more traditional. Another said there was a woman in Two Harbors who used to make them and sell them. So ever since I’ve been trying to track down more information on them.
Then at another antique store, I found a tiny pamphlet from 1955 called “Scandinavian Goodies” with a recipe for Mocha Cake — bake a “one-egg” cake, cut in squares, frost with powdered sugar icing, and roll in ground almonds browned in butter. So they’re real! I don’t know the origin of the name “Mocha” — it can’t be referring to the typical coffee/chocolate flavor.
Anyway, hope this passes on some Norwegian cooking lore to you. I love your website and will be back.
Takk et ha de godt.