Crunchy, Chewy, Ooey-Gooey Carmelitas

I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I used it to plan my wedding last summer, I used it for multiple projects throughout my teacher education program, and I constantly use it to find new recipes (and new blogs!). Pinterest becomes a problem when Cass is looking over my shoulder. He asks me why I’m not making bars and cookies every single day, and why we are eating plain veggies when we cold be having “super easy parmesan and garlic crusted” ones. My Pinterest boards have grown exponentially because of Cass.

Luckily, the other day we stumbled over a delicious looking dessert from AverieCooks that I figured I could manage to fit into my super (not) busy spring break schedule. Carmelitas have a buttery-sweet oatmeal crust with sticky, savory salted caramel and always-yummy chocolate chips melted together in the middle. Oh yes, this is definitely a recipe Cass will not let me forget about.

CCOGingredients

Ready to make a rich, messy, tasty treat? Here’s what you need:

  • 3/4 C butter
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 TBL vanilla extract
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 bag caramel squares (about 35 pieces)
  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 TSP salt (to taste)
  • 1  C (6 oz.) chocolate chips (I put in a little (lot) more than that. Recipes are more of a suggestion than a rule!)

So here’s what you need to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray. (This makes clean up WAY easier!)
  • In a bowl, melt your butter. Then add brown sugar and vanilla, whisking until smooth.
  • Add flour, oats, baking soda, and salt to the mixture, and still until combined.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape half of the oat mixture into the baking pan. Set the rest aside. Spread until smooth, and then bake for 10 minutes.
  • While the crust is baking, work on your caramels. (AverieCooks recommends using Werther’s Best Baking Squares so you don’t have to unwrap all of the squares individually; my hometown grocery store didn’t have that, so I unwrapped 30+ caramel squares. It’s a pain, but worth it!) I melted mine on the stove top at medium heat. Add the whipping cream to the caramels, and remember to stir the mixture constantly so that you don’t burn the caramels. You can melt them in the microwave, too: put the caramels and whipping cream in a bowl, and heat for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute. That might take 4-5 minutes, but the results will be the same.

CCOGcaramels

  • After the caramels are all melted (the mixture should be smooth!), you can salt to taste. Or not. It’s totally up to you! I personally love the salted-caramel flavor.
  • Remove crust from the oven after 10 minutes, and put your chocolate chips on top. I wanted my bars to have a good layer of chocolate from corner to corner, so I used a lot more than the recommended 1 cup, but again, it’s a personal choice.
  • When your caramel sauce is all done, slowly pour the mixture over the top of the chocolate chips. You want a nice, even layer.

CCOGchocolate

  • Once your caramel is all spread out, you can add the remainder of the oatmeal mixture. I dove right in and just used my fingers (don’t forget to wash up again!) and crumbled pieces of the oatmeal over the caramel, but you could probably use a rubber spatula if you want to be daintier about it.

CCOGcrust

  • Stick the pan back in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  • The most important thing to remember about this recipe is to let it cool completely. Seriously. These bars need to sit in time-out for at least four hours before serving, or the ooey-gooey caramel makes these bars a total mess. If you want to eat your dessert with a spoon, I guess, it would be fine; if you want real bars, they need to be totally chilled before attempting to cut them. But trust me: it’s worth the wait!

CCOGtop

The bottom crust is slightly crunchy, and the top crust is just the right amount of chewy. The butter and brown sugar in the crust makes a sinfully-sweet pairing.

CCOGsideview

I love when desserts have visible layers. The caramel and chocolate look so pretty next to each other. (:

CCOGside2

If you don’t like rich desserts, you need to go away. Right now. These are not for you.

CCOGside1

Mmmmm…

CCOGcarsmelpocket

The absolute BEST part of these bars? Fat pockets of caramel like this one.

What’s your favorite bar recipe? What’s your favorite version of chocolate and caramel together?

 

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3 thoughts on “Crunchy, Chewy, Ooey-Gooey Carmelitas

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