For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an irrational fear of having something stuck in my teeth. I mean, I’m petrified to find something. Spinach, pepper, bits and pieces of god-knows what… anything and everything is a mortal embarrassment.
When I had braces for a few years of my adolescence, it raised the possibility even higher which was always lovely when you had a mouth full of metal to look into. What’s the deal with braces, anyway? Like, why do they think these metal contraptions are a good idea? I understand the reasoning behind braces – straight teeth, good oral health, etc – but I mean, why do they have to look like they do? Painful steel wiring poking your cheek every time you talk, brackets rolling around when one snaps off after you secretly take a bite of taffy. And ugh, those rubber bands. Those came from the devil’s underbelly.
But then to add insult to injury, they allow you to choose random colors for your brackets and those, in theory, sound cool. You can do your school colors, your favorite colors, the rainbow, whatever. But what they don’t tell you is that it’ll look like your mouth is filled with tiny bits of candy stuck in between your teeth.
AKA, my worst nightmare.
Anywho. These bars have no bits and no pieces. They do, however, have chocolate and caramel and peanut butter which does have a tendency to get everywhere, but even I can proudly say they’re so worth it. And if nothing else, you’ll just have a special surprise to show people any time you smile. You’re welcome?
So yeah – these carmelitas. Traditionally, carmelitas are an oatmeal cookie bar base filled with caramel and chocolate chips. They’re gooey, rich and sweet, and have great texture thanks to the oats. But my version has added peanut butter cups to the mix, lending an even sweeter bite and a wonderful saltiness from the peanut buttah. These are basically my dream come true in bar form, and if they had a full-time job, smelled like cologne and were thoughtful, sincere and sensitive, I’d probably marry them.
Try them puhleeeeease. You won’t be disappointed!
*adapted from my Nutella-Filled Monster Cookie Bars recipe
Peanut Butter Cup Carmelitas
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 2 cups light brown sugar'
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 jar caramel sundae sauce
- About 25 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups standard or mini size, but not the minis in the resealable package
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking dish with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in the peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Lastly, add in the flour, salt, oats, baking powder and baking soda until a soft dough forms.
- Chop the Reese's PB Cups in half or quarters. Spread 1/2 of the dough into the prepared baking pan in an even layer; top evenly with the caramel sauce and top with the reserved PB cups. Crumble the remaining dough or "puzzle piece it" (flatten dough in your hands and gently kind of puzzle-it together) on top of the caramel and PB cups.
- Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and the center appears just about set. It's okay if it jiggles a little; it will set up as it cools and you don't want to over bake. Cool completely before lifting the bars out of the pan and cutting into bars.
These bars are so impossibly gooey, packed with sweet and salty flavor from the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the gobs of buttery caramel. You’ll love the texture from the hearty oats and substantially thick and chewy oatmeal cookie base, too. Overall, these are a bar to be reckoned with – you’ll freak for them!
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