Some call them squares, others call them sheet dessert. I grew up calling them bars. Whatever way you slice it, bars are a type of dessert often baked in a 9’’x 13’’ pan and cut into pieces for easy and delicious sharing. From the classic lemon bar to Scotcheroos and the seven-layer bar, there is something for everyone. A simple Google search will generate hundreds of recipes, but there’s something special about the desserts you grow up with.

For me, dessert bars were a very important part of my childhood. I grew up making date bars and rhubarb dream bars with my grandma and swiping seven-layer bars off the kitchen counter at holidays. When my family would go to dinner parties, my mom would have me whip up a pan as a housewarming gift. My choice of frosted banana bars may not have paired well with the wine my parents brought, but I was always incredibly proud of presenting my little accomplishment to the host. In my family, newlyweds were given bar pans off their registry, the graduation party dessert of choice was the graduate's favorite bar, and a pan of bars were delivered to the doorstep of a grieving neighbor without fail. Bars were more than just a tasty snack; they were a way for the community to bond. As far back as I can remember, my family and our neighbors would gather in my grandma’s kitchen and talk over coffee and a pan of bars. 

Olivia Heitz

As I have gotten older, my baking skills have gotten better, and my love for the dessert has only grown stronger. It wasn’t until I moved out of the Midwest in high school and away from the community of bars lovers I had grown up with that I learned bars were not a universal experience. The majority of my Californian friends assumed I meant cake or granola bars. And while yes, some bars do feature granola, the world of bars is so much more vast. Only a few years later, I moved into my first off-campus living space. It was a house with seven other girls, none of whom had had bars before. Being quarantined in a small, old, decrepit house was a bit tense, I cannot lie. Things didn’t improve very much over the year. While baking a pan of my favorite bars didn’t automatically fix all the problems, it did offer a few moments to sit and share something homemade with my roommates. This particular recipe brightens my mood regardless of where I’m baking it or who I am living with: Scotcheroos, king of dessert bars.

I say this with the understanding that scotcheroos are not for everyone; composed of chocolate, peanut butter, and sugar, it’s super rich. But it’s hard to resist a peanut butter Rice Krispie treat topped with a layer of chocolate. They’re rich, simple, easy, and very sharable. Not to mention, the ingredients are relatively cheap and can be found at most grocery stores.

To me, scotcheroos are childhood, pulled straight from the 1979 edition of the St. Mary’s Church Cookbook, and many other cookbooks to follow. When I was little, they were the special treat my Aunt brought to the 4th of July Festival and family Christmas, exclusively available via my grandmother's farmhouse. Eventually, I learned how a stove and oven worked, and with the help of my dad, I learned to bake them for myself, and eventually my friends. I was able to carry that little piece of nostalgia. In that small forever-dirty kitchen, I made them for myself, and for a moment, I was back in my grandma’s kitchen.

No matter the mood, I know these bars will bring a little bit of joy to you and your friends!

Olivia Heitz


1 medium pot

1 greased pan: (9x13)

1 microwavable bowl (optional if you prefer to melt chocolate on the stove)

Press and seal, parchment paper, or a reusable beeswax paper (again, optional but helpful for compressing the Rice Krispie mixture flat)


  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:20 mins
  • Servings:8
  • Easy


  • Base:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • Topping:
  • 1 6 oz pkg. chocolate chip
  • 1 6 oz pkg butterscotch chips
Olivia Heitz
  • Step 1

    Cook sugar and syrup in a pot over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

  • Step 2

    Remove from heat and add peanut butter, stirring until smooth.

  • Step 3

    Fold in Rice Krispies.

  • Step 4

    Once combined, press into a greased (9’’x13’’) pan. Press enough to flatten the top, but don’t pack down too much or it will have the consistency of a brick.

  • Step 5

    Let cool.

  • Step 6

    For the topping, melt the chocolate chips and butterscotch together. This can be done at a low temperature on the stove or over 10-second increments in the microwave, stirring between each increment.

  • Step 7

    Once melted, pour over cooled Rice Krispie mixture and smooth with spatula.

  • Step 8

    Put in fridge to solidify for 30 minutes.

  • Step 9

    Cut and share!

    Olivia Heitz