If you love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, this recipe is for you! These easy no-bake bars take just 15 minutes to make.
Special K Bars (also known as scotcheroos) will FLY off the platter at your next get-together. The combination of peanut butter and chocolate, plus the crunch from Special K cereal make them irresistible.
They’re ideal for a potluck or a picnic, especially when the weather is warm. They require no baking in the oven, and just about 15 minutes to assemble.
My family makes these at Christmas time as part of our Christmas cookie making. So whether you make these in December or in July, they are a popular dessert any time of the year!
You’ll need 7 ingredients for these bars:
– Sugar and corn syrup make them sweet.
– You can use either crunchy or smooth peanut butter.
– Special K cereal adds crunch! You can substitute corn flakes, if you’d like.
– Vanilla extract enhances the chocolate and peanut butter flavors.
– Semi-sweet chocolate chips combine with butterscotch chips to make the topping.
How to make Special K Bars
Line a 13×9 inch baking dish with parchment paper. The bars can be difficult to cut if they’re in the pan. The parchment will allow you to remove the bars from the pan before cutting, which makes cutting them SO much easier.
Place the corn syrup and sugar in a saucepan, and cook on the stovetop until it reaches a boil.
Then, stir in the peanut butter and vanilla using a spatula.
Next, pour the Special K in to a large bowl (use the largest bowl in your kitchen!) and pour the peanut butter mixture on top. Stir it gently to avoid crushing the cereal.
Quickly transfer the mixture to the parchment-lined pan. Be careful—the mixture will be hot. Spread the mixture into an even layer. I spray a sandwich-sized zip-top bag with cooking spray, and place my hand inside to press the mixture down evenly.
Place the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir the chips each time to ensure even heat distribution. You will notice that the chips will melt as you stir them.
Note: do not microwave the chips longer than necessary. You want to microwave them just enough to melt them, but no longer. Heating the chips too much can damage the chocolate and you’ll get an white film on top of the bars when they cool. The film is perfectly safe to eat, but just not as attractive.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter mixture, and spread it evenly using an offset spatula.
Let the bars cool on the countertop until the chocolate hardens (about 1 hour, or longer if your kitchen is warm). You could also place them in the refrigerator to speed along this process. Do not cut them before the chocolate hardens, or the chocolate will get smeared everywhere.
Finally, lift the parchment paper out of the pan, and cut the bars with a sharp knife. I find that a large kitchen knife is best for this (I LOVE my santoku knife and use it for everything.)
The only thing left to do is dig in!
What can I replace the butterscotch chips with?
Replace them with more chocolate chips. I personally love the flavor that the butterscotch chips add, but the bars are still delicious with just chocolate chips instead of both types of chips.
I’m having a hard time pressing down the peanut butter layer into an even layer. What can I do?
Your hands are your best tools! Place your hand inside a plastic zip-top bag (spray the bag first lightly with cooking spray) and press down on the peanut butter layer to put it into one even layer. I find this is much easier than using a spatula, and the mixture won’t stick to your hand thanks to the plastic bag.
What can I use in place of the Special K?
Corn flakes will work! I’ve seen other versions of this recipe that call for potato chips instead of the Special K. I’ve tried using potato chips, and I don’t recommend it. The chips make the bars greasy and too salty.
I need to eat one of these stat! How can I speed up the cooling process?
Place the pan into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then cut the bars into squares.
When is one type of cookie ever enough? Here are a few more favorites. The last two are holiday cookies!
Special K Bars
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups crunchy peanut butter (not natural peanut butter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups Special K cereal
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- Line a 13x9 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Place the corn syrup and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture just reaches a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla.
- Measure the Special K cereal into a large bowl. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the top and stir gently to combine, working quickly.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking dish lined with parchment paper. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan (be careful—it’ll be hot). I use my hand inside a sandwich sized zip-top bag (spray the bag first with cooking spray) to spread the mixture into an even layer.
- Place the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, just until melted. Pour the chocolate mixture over the top of the bars. Use a spatula or offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly.
- Let cool for at least 1 hour, or until the chocolate has hardened, before cutting. Alternatively, place the bars in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool.
- To cut into bars, lift the parchment paper out of the pan like a sling. Place on a large cutting board and cut into 24 bars with a sharp knife.