These easy bar cookies are an old fashioned treat.
I have tried every way I can think of to research the beginnings of Hoosier Peanut Bars.
The name sounds like something from the 1930s and I found out that a version of the bar cookies were entered into the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1949 by Edgar Bleeke of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He won, by the way.
My version is based on a recipe from a 1950's cookbook put out by the Federation of Women's Clubs, whoever that was.
It is a collection of recipes from all over the country and is truly falling apart on me. I love these old cookbooks.
The recipes change from decade to decade and you can see how America's tastes have changed. I would love to say that they have evolved but in most cases that wouldn't be true.
When you make these- because most certainly you will - appreciate the difficulty that someone endured to make it possible for you to enjoy peanuts.
In my research I came across several comments about people not being able to get the meringue to stiffen up and stand in peaks. I even read one site where the writer shrugged it off and said not to worry about it.
Worry about it. There is no reason you can't get the meringue right if you follow a few simple tips:
- Try to make these on a dry day. The less humidity the better.
- Always use egg whites at room temperature.
- Egg whites can't have even a molecule of fat or they won't whip. No greasy residue on bowls or kitchen tools, no oils from fingers, no spot of egg yolk no matter how small.
- Rinse the clean mixer bowl and beaters with vinegar just before making the meringue. Do not rinse the vinegar out ... just dump out the excess. The acid helps the meringues hold up.
- Whip the egg whites until they are foamy and translucent before you start to add sugar.
- Add the sugar slowly. I timed this - it took me ten minutes to use up the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Whip well after every addition.
- Check that the sugar is completely dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your finger and thumb.
I also use both Tahitian and Bourbon vanillas in this recipe because the combination gives a nice depth of flavor.
Follow the steps exactly and I think you will find that this recipe is easy, and soon becomes a favorite.
Old Fashioned Hoosier Peanut BarsPrint Save Go to Collections
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar, (dark brown will give more flavor)
- 2 eggs, , room temperature and separated
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 6 ounces chocolate chips
- ½ cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
- ½ cup coarsely chopped honey roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Grease a 13x9 inch pan.
- Mix the peanuts together.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
- Cream butter, white sugar and ½ cup of the brown sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat well.
- Add water and flour mixture and beat on low speed until well mixed.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle with the chocolate.
- Rinse a clean bowl and whisk attachment with cider vinegar. Pour out the vinegar but do not rinse with water.
- Add the egg whites to the bowl and beat until foamy.
- Slowly add the remaining 1 cup of brow sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff and glossy.
- Spead the meringue over the chocolate layer.
- Sprinkle peanuts over the meringue.
- Bake at 325F for 30 minutes.
- Turn oven off and keep the bars in the oven for 30 minutes without peeking.
- Remove bars from oven, cool, and cut into 18 pieces.