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June 2, 2010

Mid-Century Menu – East End Bars

By RetroRuth

Hello, All! Welcome to this week’s Mid-Century Menu.  I have kind of a sweet tooth this week, so I thought this would be a good chance to bake from one of my more interesting cook book finds, Mail Box News, a baking and cake decorating monthly newsletter from Maid of ScandinaviaMail Box News was started in 1956 as a monthly newsletter designed to answer the many questions customers had about Maid of Scandinavia products, and continues to this day as a monthly magazine.  It has undergone some changes, and is now published by the same people who do American Cake Decorating Magazine, as Maid of Scandinavia has since gone out of business.

This issue of Mail Box News is from January 1968, and I must say this was a really great publication, especially for housewives interested in cake decorating. It had tons of tested recipes, reader tips and featured cakes made by professional bakers and regular housewives. I have been dying to try some of the recipes in this issue, especially the recipe for East End Bars.

Interesting.  They kind of remind me of Magic Cookie Bars, but they have frosting made with instant pudding mix?  Sign me up!

Thanks to my mom for the giant, gorgeous bag of fancy pecan halves that you gave me.  I crushed some up to go into this recipe.  A waste, I know, but I still appreciate it!

The first ingredients in my “double boiler”, which is just a metal bowl over a saucepan. Not classy, but effective.

The ingredients, all melted and whisked together.  Now, I kept waiting for it to become custard consistency, but it bypassed custard and went straight to…

Curled. Eeeesh. Oh well, I poured it over the other ingredients and used it anyway!

See?  Everything is fine.  Can’t even tell the difference.

The bar base, pressed into the pan.

The ingredients for the frosting, getting ready to be mixed.  And then….

They got mixed! Surprise!  I know, not really.  Nothing too special here.  It just looks like regular frosting.

The chocolate chips and butter getting ready to be microwaved.  Aren’t the swirled chips pretty??  I had some left so I decided to use them up instead opening a new bag of straight semi-sweet chips.

The pudding frosting, spread over the base.

The melted chips and butter.

Ooooookay. So, this looks crappy, but give me a break, ok?  The chips started solidifiying as soon as they hit the cold frosting.  I suppose it is better than everything melting, right? Right?  Ah, screw it.

Tom’s first bite! 

He looks a little concerned. 

“What do they taste like?”

He chewed for a bit.  “Grainy.  The frosting stuff is really grainy.  But the bottom part is good.”

I took a bite.  The top “frosting” was really grainy, but other than that it was pretty good. Rich, but good.

The Verdict: Good. Very rich, so cut them small.  If I was going to make them again, I would beat the butter and powdered sugar together, and dissolve the pudding mix in the milk and beat the whole thing for a long time in an electric mixer to get rid of the grainyness.

**Verdict UPDATE!  These bars have been upgraded from good to completely awesome after 24 hours of refridgeration.  Tom ate three in one sitting and would have eaten more if I hadn’t taken them away from him.  The grainyness in the filling goes away and the base tastes even better!  Definitely recommended!

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8 Responses to Mid-Century Menu – East End Bars

  1. Andrea Reply

    June 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Those look pretty good, I might have to try those sometime!

  2. Cass Reply

    June 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    This sounds like a rip-off of an Nanaimo Bar! (which was invented in Nanaimo, Canada in the early 50’s) You should check them out, they are amazing and found everywhere.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      June 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      Hi Andrea! You should totally try them. They turned out pretty good, I think.

      Hey Cass!! Hmmm…seems I have stumbled on a controversy. I looked up the recipe for the Nanaimo bar, and this recipe is exactly the same as the Nanaimo bar! It seems there is some controversy about whether it was made in Canada, or if it is actually the “East End Bar” or “New York Slice” from America. 🙂

  3. sablemable Reply

    June 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm


    LOL, there used to be a bar here called the East End Bar&Grill!!!!!

    Those do look good! Probably too hot in the kitchen which can cause stuff to curdle.

  4. Cass Reply

    June 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I wonder if there isn’t a more southern version then too!?! (they’re just too good to not be everywhere)

  5. Sara in AZ Reply

    June 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I don’t know, do you think this could possibly be better than the Hot Fudge Pudding Cake??? 🙂

  6. RetroRuth Reply

    June 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Cass & Sara – After 24 hours in the fridge, it was totally better than the hot Fudge pudding cake. They were awesome. Sara, you have got to try these!

    Sable – Ha ha, I wonder if they could be “East End Bar’s Bars”? Get it? Huh? Huh? Ahhhhh…not that funny. 🙂

  7. Doug Reply

    June 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    What a famous recipe Nanaimo bars! Here’s a link to the “official” recipe, along with a few variations, including peanut butter and cherry almond.

    And here’s an epitome photo of the dessert:

    Next time suggest that after melting the butter, sugar and cocoa, you add the egg off heat. That should keep the egg from scrambling. What you referred to, Ruth, as the cocoa mixture curdling was the liquid egg getting hot enough to become solid, or scramble.

    Also, I vote to let Tom eat the whole pan. You shouldn’t limit him to three at a time. He looks like a runner, so he can take a lot of calories. Besides when you have a winner, he should enjoy it, having suffered through flops. BTW, I really loved the cat attack vid last week, played it over and over, and sent it to a few friends. Thanks, Doug in San Diego

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