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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.