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Teenager’s brownie recipe well worth trying

Mon., June 15, 2009

Garage sale season arrived in our neighborhood in grand style recently. A group of energetic teens and their parents put on a super sale under a big white tent in the middle of the block to raise money for their coed youth rowing team.

Eager passers-by snapped up the usual skates, skis and salad bowls, but the surprise attraction was the tempting “Bake Sale” table. That’s where I spotted “Jack’s Million-Dollar Bars.” At only 75 cents each, how could I resist?

One bite of the chocolaty, nutty confection, and I knew I had to have the recipe. But who was Jack?

He’s a real 16-year-old high school sophomore who is not only active on the rowing team, but also an enthusiastic cook who loves to dabble in the kitchen.

“I started making family dinners around eighth grade as an excuse to not do homework,” he admitted with a grin. “But now I take cooking seriously and enjoy sauteing meats, shellfish and vegetables, and experimenting with spices.”

The Million-Dollar Bars could be his real success story. Try them, and you’ll be happy that I stopped by that bake sale table.

Jack’s Million-Dollar Bars


4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla


1 package (11-ounce) butterscotch chips

1 package (12-ounce) semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.

Measure oats into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Melt together the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat. Pour over oatmeal and mix together.

Press into the greased pan and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool for about 30 minutes.

Using the same saucepan, melt butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and peanut butter over low heat. Stir in peanuts and spread evenly over base. Cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate 1 hour until firm enough to cut neatly into squares. Or, leave on the counter and cut the next day. Jack suggests using a small metal spatula that doesn’t bend to cut and remove bars from the pan.

Tip: For a bake sale, set each square on a paper cupcake cup for stability. Wrap with plastic wrap and top with a sticker or label.

Yield: 30 bars.

Donna Erickson is the author of several books about family activities and host of a public television series. See more at

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