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Caramel Special Kay Bars

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1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-2/3 cups light corn syrup
15 unwrapped caramels
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1-1/2 cups peanut butter
6 cups Special K crisp rice ccereal
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter

Caramel Special Kay Bars

This sweet and chewy treat is a classic no bake bar cookie, made indulgent with a rich chocolate frosting.

  • Serves 24
  • Easy

About This Recipe

For years, I made a no bake recipe for Special Kay Bars that uses a combination of a brown sugar syrup and peanut butter, topped with a creamy chocolate frosting. Everyone loved this recipe, but I thought it could use an upgrade. Caramel Special Kay Bars is the result.

I added some melted caramel to the mixture. What a hit!

The caramel adds a smoky depth of flavor to the recipe and makes the bars more tender. But this addition is super easy. The caramels melt perfectly in the hot sugar mixture.

Remember that you have to use Special Kay cereal when you make this recipe. Rice Krispies just doesn’t cut it; that cereal gets soggy when combined with the caramel peanut butter mixture.

This recipe feeds a crowd. Make it the next time you have hungry teenagers to feed!

And if you want to make the original recipe, just omit the caramel!

Tips for the best Caramel Special Kay Bars:

  • Make sure you microwave the sugar mixture long enough so the sugar dissolves. You do not want any gritty sugar crystals in this bar cookie.
  • But don’t let the sugar mixture boil for more than a few seconds. If it boils the bars will be very hard.
  • It’s important to measure the ingredients carefully. Brown sugar is special. It must be packed into the measuring cup so it holds it shape when you turn it out. If the brown sugar falls apart when it comes out of the cup, it’s either too dry or you didn’t pack it hard enough.
  • Stir and stir after the second microwave session. This helps the caramels melt and also helps the sugar dissolve.

Why this recipe works:

  • The combination of caramel, peanut butter, and chocolate is one of the best in the dessert world. The rich smokiness of caramel, the nutty salty smoothness of peanut butter, and the sweet richness of chocolate complement each other perfectly.
  • The combination of textures is perfect too. The cereal is crisp, the chocolate frosting is smooth, and the caramel peanut butter is chewy.
  • The addition of the Special K cereal is important. Crisp rice cereal won’t cut it; it absorbs too much liquid and doesn’t stay crisp.

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Spray a 13" x 9" glass baking dish with nonstick baking spray.

Then, in a large microwave safe bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and light corn syrup and mix with a spoon to combine.


Microwave on high power for 1 minute, then remove the bowl from the microwave and stir. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Rinse the spoon with hot water so you remove sugar crystals that could make the bars grainy.


Stir in the caramel candies and the cream. Then return the bowl to the microwave and microwave for another 2 minutes on high. Remove from the microwave and stir. You may have to stir for a few minutes to get the caramels to melt. Make sure that the sugar crystals are dissolved.


When the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth, add 1-1/2 cups peanut butter and stir until that melts.


Add the cereal and stir. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and press down with the back of a buttered spoon.


Now combine the chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat on 50% power for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Microwave for another 1 to 2 minutes to completely melt the chips, and stir until the frosting is well blended.


Pour the frosting over the bars and spread to cover. Let stand until firm, then cut into squares to serve.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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