Before we get down to business with this week’s recipe, I just wanted to say “thank you” to all of you for the overwhelming support and love I received in response to last week’s post (“Me + Food: A Complicated Love Story“). That was by far the most difficult–and brutally open and honest– thing I’ve ever written, and it meant a lot to hear from so many of you. Thanks for being so amazing, guys– ♥ you all!
With that said: Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Carmelitas.
I’ve spent all 27 years of my life trying to find a dessert-y flavor combination more satisfying than silky caramel, semi-sweet chocolate, brown-sugary cookie crust, and a hint of salt, and I just can’t find one. If there’s something out there that you think rivals that combo, please feel free to let me know down in the comments section. Otherwise, I’m just going to carry on embracing that old “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” phrase and go balls to the wall with these chewy, gooey carmelita bars.
They’re exceptionally uncomplicated, but they taste like you slaved over them for hours. The hardest part? Resisting the urge to slide a fork into them before they’ve set. But trust me, you want to let them set (that is, as long as you’re planning on serving them to friends/family instead of hoarding them for yourself). If you try to cut into them too early, you’ll have a sticky mess on your hands, and you won’t be able to cut them into clean, even squares. Aside from that, just sit back, relax, and prepare for the inevitable barrage of compliments headed your way.
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Carmelitas
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 11-ounce bag of caramel squares, unwrapped (I used Kraft brand)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8" x 8" baking pan with aluminum foil (dull side facing down)
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside
- Place butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until just melted (time varies from microwave to microwave, this usually takes 35 seconds for me)
- Pour melted butter into a medium mixing bowl
- Add brown sugar and vanilla extract to butter and whisk until smooth, set whisk aside
- Using a wooden spoon, slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stirring as you go until fully blended
- Pour about half the mixture into the prepared baking pan; use a spoon or spatula to evenly spread out
- Bake for 10 minutes
- While base is baking, heat caramel squares and heavy cream in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat; stir occasionally until caramels have melted and mixture is smooth, then remove from heat
- Remove base from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chunks
- Pour caramel sauce over chocolate
- Evenly crumble remaining dough mixture over the top
- Return to oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, until edges turn golden
- Let cool and set in pan for 4 hours (this step is crucial! If you don't let them set properly, you'll have a gooey mess on your hands when you try to cut into them)
- After carmelitas have set, pull edges of foil and lift out of pan
- Slice and serve
- Carmelitas will last in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week, and in the freezer for up to two months