Michele’s Drama-Club-Famous Tri-Level Brownies

My girls have just completed another production with their homeschool drama club. It was a hilarious version of The Beauty and The Beast. I’m transferring the pictures (mostly video) from my camera to my computer as I type this, so I don’t have that to share. But I want to share my Drama-Club-Famous Tri-Level Brownie recipe. I’m asked for it a few times a year because I have been offering them at the concession stand in every theater production my girls’ drama club has done for several years now. Having it here on my blog will make it easier to share.


In December I made them for the drama club Christmas party and realized I’d never photographed them well, so I took care of that. Then I created a scrapbook page with the photos and recipe for a cookbook of favorite recipes I’m planning.


The recipe comes from a book that was in my mom’s collection: Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies, page 26. I started making the brownies in the 1980’s. Several years ago I converted the recipe to wheat-free and dairy-free (and it was always easily nut-free) to be safe for Caroline, and that’s how I always make them for the concession stand so audience members with food allergies may find something they can enjoy. I’ll copy the recipe as it is in the book, and then add a note about how I change it.

Tri-Level Brownies

Stir together:

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

½ cup flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda


6 Tablespoons butter, melted

Press into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


Beat well:

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 egg


Stir together ⅔ cup flour and ¼ tsp baking powder

Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture alternately with:

¼ cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla

Fold in ½ cup chopped nuts if desired.

Pour into pan over oat layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Frost with fudge frosting.


Michele’s notes:

I always double this recipe and nearly fill a 12×17 jelly roll pan so I have lots to give to the concession stand. I keep the uneven edges at home to enjoy myself. 😀

I’ve used countless variations of combinations of alternative flours including coconut, rice, sorghum, potato, tapioca, and millet and they’ve all worked fine. Use whichever combination you’ve found you like the best. This week I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, which is rice, potato, sorghum, and tapioca flours.

I replace the butter and milk with Earth Balance and coconut milk.

Important!  When making this wheat-free and dairy-free, I found it very difficult to spread the brownie batter over the oats until I began skimping on the flour measurements and increased the milk measurement by approximately 50%.* I make the batter thin enough to pour out of the mixing bowl and move the bowl back and forth across the pan, mostly covering the oats that way. Then I only need to use the spatula a little bit, to spread it evenly and get it into the corners.

For the top layer, sometimes I make basic powdered sugar/milk/butter frosting (recipe is often on the back of powdered sugar packages). That’s what you can see in the photos above. Other times, like this week for Beauty and The Beast, I simply sprinkle chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand, usually, for allergy concerns) all over the brownies immediately at the end of baking, leaving the pans in the hot oven (but the oven turned off) so they’ll melt. It only takes a couple of minutes. Then I spread them evenly with a spatula.

So that I can make neat bars to wrap for the concession stand, I refrigerate the brownies in the pan for about a half hour to harden the frosting.

*I always double this recipe. So I have a more precise measurement for the dairy-free milk in a doubled recipe. I find ⅔ cup works well.




Please comment. I welcome discussion and critique! Thank you!

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