Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting

An Epic Tale of Me, My Treats and the PTO:
When we made our big move last fall, I got roped into joining the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) early on. I have an extremely, extremely high can’t-say-no reflex. So, I was asked. And I joined. I didn’t want my equally high guilt complex to keep me awake at night considering I have three children at the school. Well, little did I know that in a school of hundreds of students, we max out with five parents at the meetings (no wonder I was so heavily recruited – I was fresh meat!). After the first half of the school year, we decided that perhaps if we advertised treats at the PTO meetings, our numbers would increase. Skyrocket. Balloon to epic proportions. A few pathetic parents can hope, right?

These delightful and pretty little butterscotch brownie bars made their debut as the first PTO meeting treats of the new year. I sent out flyers to all the parents and teachers announcing that they should come to the meeting because a) in doing so they may or may not be eligible for teacher or parent of the year (PTO is not responsible for the unawarding of this title) and b) there.would.be.treats (I mean, come for the treats, people!) and I was positive we would have a crowd. So much so that I doubled the batch. Let’s just say that I had enough brownies leftover to feed a small country. And, if that’s not bad enough, our enrollment has decreased by two, if you count tonight’s PTO numbers.

Should me and my treats take that personally?

Don’t worry, butterscotch brownie bars, I still love you (as should be clearly evidenced by how many of the leftovers I ate in my sorrow). These bars are basically a marriage of butterscotch and brownies smothered with hands-down the best frosting I’ve ever tasted (in fact I waxed poetic about it on Facebook the other week – we’ve been eating it sandwiched between graham cracker squares for days and days and I’m still not tired of the glorious, decadent stuff). Such a perfect, winning combination.

If leftover brownie and butterscotch bars are my solace for dipping PTO numbers, I’ll take it. Chocolate can soothe all my wounds and worries. Those parents have no idea what they’re missing, man. Long live the PTO and long live PTO treats! Can’t wait to bake something up next month…but this time, my common sense and burgeoning thighs are telling me not to double the batch.

Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Chocolate Moon Pies
Two Years Ago: Poor Man’s Stroganoff
Three Years Ago: Glazed Meatloaf

Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting

Yield: Makes about 18-24 bars

Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting


    Butterscotch batter:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • Chocolate batter:
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (a little less than 1/2 cup), chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting:
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Extra butterscotch chips for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the butterscotch batter, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. With a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs and beat until blended. Gradually add the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the butterscotch chips.
  3. For the chocolate batter, combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook until the butter and chocolate are melted. Whisk until smooth. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spread the chocolate batter in the prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of the butterscotch batter on top and use a butter knife to gently swirl the two together. Don't overmix or else you'll end up with muddy batter. If you want distinct swirls, run your knife through a few times but don't overdo it.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. For the frosting, pour the evaporated milk or cream into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Cover the pot and let it stand for 10 minutes. Scrape the warm mixture into a food processor or blender and add the sugar, butter and vanilla. Process the mixture until it is perfectly smooth, 1-2 minutes. Let the frosting stand for a few minutes until it has thickened to a spreading consistency. Spread the frosting on the cooled bars and sprinkle with extra butterscotch chips. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:
bars from Bakerella, frosting adapted from Joy of Cooking

27 Responses to Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting

  1. Margie S says:

    My doctor says I MUST watch my sugar intake and I just discovered your blog. I am going to make your brownie test recipe with THREE cocoas — I have an ancient box of old Hershey’s and a gigantic container of Dutch cocoa I bought at Costco and never dared try; I also just saw that Hershey’s makes a Special Dark which is a blend of regular and Dutch. I read your discussion of your testing, and the differences between regular cocoa and Dutch, but the recipe wasn’t in that blog. So tonight I googled “Mel’s brownies” and there they were…with pictures at the bottom of many other chocolate marvels. So now I have 5 recipes to try.

    The next time I see my doctor I am blaming everything on you. But for now, I have to look for the egg-roll recipe mentioned in the comments on the Butterscotch Brownie Bars with Chocolate Satin Frosting.

  2. Julia says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I bought a pack of butterscotch chips (sort of an impulse buy) and I have been pondering on what to make with it – now I know!

  3. Kelley says:

    These look delicious, and the parents from your children’s school are crazy. I would totally go to PTO meetings just to hang out with you 🙂

  4. Amy says:

    Oh – those look sinful! I so would have been at that meeting and counting my blessings that not many others came – more for those that were there.

  5. Elise says:

    You should try again next meeting, BUT you should advertise the treats are made by you. “Treats made by the renown baker from melskitchencafe.com” This.will.work!!!

  6. Kim in MD says:

    This post made me giggle out loud! I think treats at the PTO meetings is a great idea. I agree with Teresa- don’t the people in your town know that you have a very popular food blog? Don’t they know you are the Queen of homemade treats? Keep doing what you aero doing, Mel. Word will get out! 🙂

  7. Julie says:

    If I knew you were making the treats I’D go to the meetings!!

  8. Claire says:

    Good for you, its always good to be involved. Just like Valerie’s, my kids school in CA would have food sponsored by a local food place for dinner and babysitting at every mtg, for me though it was always at a time I couldn’t make it but I know they had a great turn out. Since then we’ve moved to UT and I joined the PTA, paid my $6 and was never informed about any of the mtg’s, I even followed up with the school secretary and still nothing. This year I decided to save myself the $6:). Maybe once it catches on with the treats more people will come.

  9. Mel says:

    Teresa – you are cute. You know, I don’t think anyone, besides a handful of people, in my little town know I have a blog. I am really bad about being like “Hey, nice to meet you! I have a blog!” And even if they did, clearly my treats aren’t worth coming to PTO for! 🙂

  10. Mel says:

    Hilary – sorry! It’s 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

  11. BarbaraO says:

    Ah, the PTO dilemma…attendance seems to be a universal and eternal challenge. But carry on, is my advice. You won’t regret it later, when you look back and your kids are grown, that you were there and involved and knew the back story to the memories that they will have. Treats will be appreciated by those who do come, and maybe as word gets out, results will happen…? Good luck, busy mom!

  12. Hilary says:

    Mel!! I’m making this right now and was about to process the frosting but it doesn’t say how much vanilla. Ahhhh

  13. Teresa says:

    Love the story! I would have made a double batch, too. Who wouldn’t come for treats!! Don’t they know you are kinda famous? Seriously, I always wonder. I know you are in a small town. Do they recognize you or know what you do? I would think half the town would have come to have some of your treats! Thanks for these- they look fantastic.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I love your life Mel. Truly.

  15. grace says:

    i’m just crazy about butterscotch. the frosting seems extra delicious too–nicely done!

  16. Jen T says:

    Yum! Our PTO sounds just like yours 🙂 Sad how you can have so few parents interested in helping, especially if you have treats! We haven’t tried that at our PTO meetings. Maybe it would help us. You can still make a double batch and just send the rest to me for my PTO. Thanks!

  17. I would have showed up AND taken some to go! 🙂

  18. Jackie Gonzales says:

    I’m fairly confident that if they knew what kind of treats you turned out, you’d have better attendance 🙂 Maybe you should make your egg rolls next time? I couldn’t get my friends away from me when I made those for our NYE party!!!! HAHA!!!

  19. Valerie says:

    Our PTO has free pizza and babysitting every meeting- I think that helps getting people to come!

  20. Katie says:

    My kids school is the same way in fact we don’t even try to have meetings anymore because no one comes. I would have come for the treats alone 🙂

  21. Rachel J says:

    Aw Mel! That is the worst when you have leftovers of your beloved baked treats! Don’t lose heart. I’m sure that I would have taken some home with me 🙂

  22. Tiffany says:

    I am PTO president at my kids’ school and we have tried EVERYTHING, even going out for drinks after our meetings, and nothing works. 🙁 I would definitely attend a meeting for some of these!!!

  23. April says:

    Can’t say that I am sorry for ROPING you in, after all we need you!! I never mind taking your leftovers home. In fact just yesterday the kids were hiding under the table because they stole the leftovers off the table. Hard to get mad at their chocolate faces. I may or may not have eaten what they left behind.

  24. Cracking up…….If I were your next door neighbor I would share my “fresh meat” getting roped into doing our entire school carnival story. They always get the young ones that have no idea what they are getting into. Even better if I was your neighbor I would have taken all the extras that you were going to feed the army with. 🙂 As always thanks for the delish recipes!

  25. LisaLen says:

    Don’t take it personally, I know our PTO would love to have a treat such as these bars at our next meeting!

  26. ChrissieK says:

    Haha!! Why did you capitalize THE oven? You are a hoot….. and delightful…. and a gift to all of us PTO moms that don’t live near you. 😉

  27. Oh no! I’m sorry your PTO meeting had such low attendance. I bet you people just didn’t read the flyers, because if I heard treats would be there (and was old enough to have kids in school, lol) I would totally have been there.

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