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Modern Scotcheroos

11 reviews / 4.9 average

Sticky-sweet, lightly crispy peanut butter rice krispie mixture topped with a thick layer of melted chocolate and sprinkled with magical flakes of sea salt. That’s all, thank you and goodnight Twin Cities!

Friends, this is the food I was raised on. In the background of every family and school event of my childhood lies a scratched and dented 9×13 of almost-gone scotcheroos. It is simple Midwestern goodness and it should not be messed with.

Except, I did one thing: I messed with it. Whyyyy.

As an anxious person finding her way through the world, I’d say I follow all rules of all places at all times exactly ALL THE TIME, but there is always that pesky 1% of the time at which point I become a rule-breaking, delinquent, rogue recipe “creative.” It is not wise to give me your classic recipes. I am not to be trusted with such precious, unbreakable things. I pinky promise I will take what is written and go off the rails with it.

How To Make Our Modern Scotcheroos (1 MIN):

Peanut butter rice krispie bars in a pan.

In my childhood, there was no swim meet, sleepover, or class party that did not require a pan of scotcheroos.

And to this day, there is no weekend road trip or cabin visit that doesn’t require a pan of scotcheroos made by mom – but wait. I’m actually being 100% serious. My mom literally dropped off a little tupperware of scotcheroos just last week for our road trip up to the North Shore with Kev and Mel. Let me say that again: MY MOM DROPPED OFF TREATS FOR ME AND MY FRIENDS. Last week. I am 31 years old.

Scotcheroos are the symbolic representation, the physical manifestation, of all that is good and right about treats made by mom. Can you guys confirm this? Midwesterners? Kids? Grown ups acting as kids? Moms? I’m very confident that this is just a fact of life when you are born and raised in small town Minnesota.

Peanut butter rice krispie bars drizzled with chocolate.

So let’s get to business. What exactly makes a scotcheroo modern? We’re going clean and modern on a few different fronts here.

  • Replacement of corn syrup + sugar with brown rice syrup + real maple syrup.
  • Replacement of rice krispies with brown rice krispies.
  • Replacement of butterscotch-chocolate topping with dark chocolate sea salt topping.

Strict adherence to the shape, texture, and general basic awesomeness of the classic scotcheroo is of extreme importance. The goal here is to end up with a chewy, crispy, chocolate-top-heavy dessert bar that is an almost-mirror image of the original. Hear me out, please, all you treat-making moms across the great states of Minnesota and Wisconsin: the classic still reigns supreme. This is it no way meant to be a replacement for all that is good and right about retro Midwestern dessert bars.

This is just a modernized version for the days when a) YOU NEED A SCOTCHEROO, and b) you’d like it to fall more under the homemade-granola-bar category as opposed to the just-ate-dessert-for-breakfast-again category, and c) you are a grown adult human person – possibly also modern – and you should be able to make your own dessert bars by now.

Chocolate-covered peanut butter rice krispie bars stacked on each other.

Confession: Even though they are not the most high quality thing a person could ever eat, I cried a few tears when I left the butterscotch chips behind in this recipe. That being said, I cannot recommend the sea salt dark chocolate combo enough. If you felt strongly about this and wanted to leave the original topping alone (chocolate + butterscotch chips) so you get some butterscotchy vibes in your life, by all means. You do you, friend.

Dear Modern Scotcheroos: we’re grown ups who make our own chocolate peanut butter rice krispie bars now, and we’re coming for ya.

Chocolate-covered peanut butter rice krispie bar.
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Modern Scotcheroos held by hand.

Modern Scotcheroos


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes

Description

The classic chocolate covered peanut butter rice krispie bars, but with minimal refined sugar thanks to a few modern swaps. It’s a peanut butter meets chocolate situation, so obviously, your people will love you.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice syrup <- order on Amazon because you’re a queen and Amazon is life
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 6 cups brown rice krispies
  • 1 24-ounce bag of dark chocolate chips
  • a generous pinch of flaked sea salt <- again, may I suggest Amazon

Instructions

  1. Rice Krispie Mixture: Melt brown rice syrup, peanut butter, and maple syrup in a large pot until a smooth mixture forms. Add a pinch of sea salt and stir in the brown rice krispies. Remove from heat and press into a 9×13 pan.
  2. Chocolate Topping: Melt chocolate chips gently and slowly (preferably in a double boiler, or, in my case, a random stainless steel bowl fitted inside a pot of simmering water, but microwave or regular saucepan works, too). Pour chocolate over the rice krispie mixture and sprinkle again – !! – with sea salt because you don’t want to hate your life. Rest at room temperature until chocolate is set and watch them disappear.

Notes

I usually get my brown rice krispies at Whole Foods (store brand), but you can also just use regular rice krispies if you can’t find the brown rice version.

I tried subbing honey in place of the brown rice syrup and/or maple syrup and did not love it. It works texturally, but it is so overwhelmingly sweet. Like, make-your-teeth-hurt sweet. This coming from someone with a pretty high tolerance for sweets. I’d highly recommend sticking with the brown rice syrup which has a nice sticky texture but a much less dramatic sweetness to it.

These travel so well! We take them everywhere with us in the summer – parties, road trips, etc.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: scotcheroos, special k bars, healthy special k bars, healthy scotcheroos

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Here’s an original scotcheroo recipe for the sake of comparison.
This post contains affiliate links to the brown rice syrup and flaked sea salt on Amazon!

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of easy dessert recipes. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

93 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kristin

    I’ve never been a fan of the butterscotch in the topping, so dark chocolate sounds great to me, as do the other changes!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    YES YES YES, YES! scotheroos are the food of my childhood (this past weekend we were at a cabin with my hubby’s siblings & we destroyed a 9×13 pan, you betcha!) & i LOOOOVE all of your updates…esp that flaky sea salt. cannot wait to try these!!!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love how your mom dropped off treats for you at 31-years-old…I never seem to have that problem. She thinks I could stand to loose a few pounds actually, but hey, who’s counting. Oh well. I’m making these anyhow, dark chocolate and salt is not something I’ve tried before!!!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    valerie

    oh man, i LOVE the butterscotch chips mixed into the chocolate chips, but a good dark salted chocolate is a superb topping, so i just might give it a whirl!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Hannah L.

    I had an interesting childhood being that I am a first generation Minnesota born of Jamaican immigrants. We acclimated a lot, but didn’t have bars (except for lemon bars) at home. But growing up in Minneapolis I had bars A LOT at other people’s homes, and community functions. I grew up on Special K bars, and didn’t realize people ate/made/had another version called Scotcheroos. Equally delicious, just different. Love this even better version! Especially the addition of Maldon!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      sue childs

      I noticed you commented on an animal-based food product that you will try. How will you adapt it to vegan? or are you just advertising vegan and not actually a vegan consumer? I am thinking about adapting it to a vegan GF recipe. Thanks.

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Meredith

    Shout-out to Midwestern dessert bars! I’m a Wisconsin native/Iowa transplant; I’d like to assure you the Scotch-a-roo tradition is loud and proud in IA as well. 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jackie

    I grew up on Special K bars, and in my mind, even as a somewhat cultured adult, they still reign supreme over pretty much any other dessert out there. Unfortunately, given that the first step in preparing them is to melt globs of *corn syrup* and *sugar* together in a pan, I find it hard to make them too often anymore, because of, idk, my health? Gonna have to give this updated version a try. Thanks for the recipe, Lindsay!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Umm, #MomGoals! Your mom sounds adorable and I’m absolutely going to do the same thing for maybe one-day 30-something kids. I also want to be a modern mom so I’ll probably go with modern version of the scotheroos 😉

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Simone

    I grew up in Wisconsin and all I can say is YES! We made this ALL THE TIME. We called them “Special K Bars” and people would request my mom make them for all kinds of events. I love that this uses maple syrup (the recipe I have is corn syrup). Can’t wait to try this new take on a beloved threat!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh em gee I can totally relate to this! Grew up on these… thought we just called them “Special K Bars” because we used Special K cereal. Kind of silly now that I think about it… They were my mom’s specialty and in all of our family recipes cookbooks. Somehow I have taken over making these over the years and I too have contemplated re-doing the recipe a tad. But I don’t think I would hear the end of it from my family! Maybe one day I will trick them… Leaving out the butterscotch topping would be a dead giveaway though.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Joanie

    Love Scotcheroos–do you think you could sub almond or cashew butter for the peanut butter?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Yes! I made a batch with almond butter. They were so-so. I didn’t like them as much as the peanut butter ones but the texture was totally fine.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Wendy

    You had me at Scotcheroos. I actually have started a list at work of the different names people have for these! (My family – Special K bars.) One year for Christmas, my mom made each of the adult kids and grandkids our own 9×13 pan – and we protected them from each other like they were gold! I don’t know if I can do anything but the traditional recipe (with double frosting) but thanks for the alternative!!!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Elizabeth | The Recipe Revival

    Oh my lord! These sound better than regular scotcheroos! I’m all about the dark chocolate and sea salt. Thanks for sharing 😊

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    LOVE what you said about being creative with recipes and rule abiding the rest of the time. It is the one place I go off the wall too, totally rogue. so much so that I can’t even follow my own recipes when I make them again! I also didn’t know brown rice Krispies existed! MUST FIND AND CONSUME IN BAR FORM!

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Yes! I could not agree more – these are a manifestation of the goodness of childhood and awesome moms who always show with a pan of something sweet. For me, it was homemade fudgy granola bars. SO GOOD.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I just want all you Midwesterners to know you grew up with the best treats. I’ve never heard of a scotcheroo or a special K bar. They sound magical. Thanks for this version I can respectably make as a grown-up, Lindsay. <3

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This makes my Minnesota heart so so so very happy! I grew up in Moorhead! Another veeeery Midwestern dish I miss so very much (since I now live in Boston): candy bar salads.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Brittany

      I forgot about candy bar salads until you mentioned them! My grandma always made an apple + snicker bar “salad.” I can’t believe those were actually served with Sunday dinner. I recently moved from Minnesota to Boston! Boston is wonderful, but I do love knowing some of my “people” are still nearby 😉

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Christa K

    Um, in my family Scotcheroos are made exclusively with Cheerios. So just the fact that these aren’t make me kinda sad.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Becky

      Kinda sad that you’ve been using the wrong cereal your whole life? Lol
      Cheerios are just so…bland.