Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Oddly Named Mocha Squares

It has long been told in family lore how my mom used to make "mocha squares" when my oldest sister was a kid and everyone loved mocha squares.  Until Oldest Sister had an unfortunate bout of foodborn illness after eating chow mein and mocha squares.  After that, she refused to eat them ever again.

This was long, long before my time (let's see if Oldest Sister reads this...), so I had only heard of mocha squares, but never tasted them.  I asked Mom what they were and she described a vanilla cake with white frosting and peanuts.  Um, where is the chocolate?  Where is the coffee?  This made no sense to me.  Until I borrowed Mom's cookbook.

Tried Recipes, Grafton Lutheran Ladies Aid (1961)

There in the tattered book was the recipe for mocha squares. 

I did internet searches for mocha squares and found recipes for bars that involved chocolate and coffee, which is exactly what someone would expect from the name.  Finally, in desperation, I searched for "cake squares frosted peanuts" and saw that the rest of the world calls these peanut squares or peanut cake squares.  That makes so much more sense!

Because I am such a good sister, I whipped up a batch of so-called mocha squares to share with Oldest Sister at our weekly tea and crumpets.

Lily lends a paw to the baking process

They were fairly easy to make and tasted delicious while fresh.  I gleefully arranged them on a cute 1950s platter and drove them to my mother's house where I waited for Oldest Sister to arrive so I could tell her I made her most-hated food*.  And she had the nerve to not show up that day.  Drats, foiled again!

chambers 90c stove range
Mocha squares!
I think I will leave the recipe off this time because while these were quite delicious initially, the cake became... gummy... once refrigerated.  I think there is probably a better recipe for peanut squares out there.  I will try again sometime in the future because the combination of the sweet frosting and the salty peanuts was really nice.  I just didn't care much for this particular cake recipe.

*Lest anyone think that I am more evil than I really am, I have a similar story involving cherry pie with canned cherry pie filling, which I cannot stand to even smell to this day.  Oldest Sister has made several things with cherry pie filling, so this was an act of revenge, not outright aggression.  Too bad it didn't work out. <sigh>


  1. To me the cake still looks yummy, but probably we have a better recipe to bring out its greatness. I will stay tuned for your next article so that i dont miss a thing. Thanks!

  2. I agree - there is potential for something great with this combination of ingredients, but this isn't the recipe. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Did you find a great recipe? I have my Grandma's -- so delish!!

  4. Our family makes these every year for Christmas. Delicious. Freeze them after you roll them in nuts and take them out shortly before eating. Yum

  5. I just realized that I haven't been getting notifications for comments! So Unknown, if you are still out there, I would love the recipe! And thank you for the tip, saburg - that would let me make the whole recipe and enjoy them over a longer time period!

  6. I make these every years. Use a Hot Milk Cake recipe.

  7. My husbands family has made these for years and and everyone always raves about them when they try them. We just made a white cake from the box or pound cake. Cut them in squares, freeze them, take out a few at a time to frost then roll in crushed dry roasted peanuts. We keep them in the freezer and take them out about 2.0!minutes before eating. Best to eat when they are cool, not room temp. We crush our peanuts finer that you show in the picture

  8. Glad I found your post. My grandmother would make these. My mom and I plan to make her recipe. She wrote ingredients, but no details. I remember her keeping them in the freezer.

  9. Betty Crocker's cookbook, 1956 edition, calls them Blarney Stones. That's what they are called by everyone I know. We make them every year for St. Patrick's Day.