Sunday, March 4, 2012
Frosted Coffee Bars
Frosted Coffee Bars are not really bars (as in bar cookies) but rather cake (as in sheet cake). Not that there's anything wrong with that!
This unusual confection is a delicious alternative to muffins and an excellent choice for breakfast or afternoon tea. Typical of cakes from the 1930s and 1940s, this one is laced with chopped nuts and raisins. The addition of brewed coffee lends the cake a deeper color and more complex flavor. I suspect the originator of this recipe had a bit of warm coffee on the stove and decided to use that as the liquid rather than the more expensive milk. (Coffee is often used in chocolate desserts because it intensifies and deepens the chocolate flavor, while its own distinctive coffee flavor is hidden, but that's another story).
These are not gorgeous, but they are strangely addicting.
If you do make them, please don't skip the important step (as I did) of greasing the pan. I thought using aluminum foil would be fine, but they would have released much easier if I had oiled (with butter, Crisco or even Pam) the foil first.
At first, the batter will appear curdled. But forge ahead...
And voila, it will smooth out beautifully.
All those holes in the cake are from testing to see if it was done. That's one of the toughest tasks of baking -- getting it just right. I tend to under-bake everything, a direct reaction to my grandmother's tendency to over-bake everything. Trust me, neither is a good thing.
Mix up the frosting and spread on the whole cake before cutting into squares.
I used instant Italian espresso in place of the Nestle's instant coffee and butter for the shortening. Also, I used a 9 x 13 inch pan, as I don't have the 10 x 15 pan called for in the recipe. That size is no longer widely available and may not even be made any more.