Calling all caramel lovers! These Best Ever Carmelitas are absolutely divine! The thickest, butteriest caramel layer sandwiched between layers of chocolate chips and oatmeal cookies, baked to perfection in a gooey, chewy bar.
You guys – these bars are everything. Ev.Er.Y.Thing.
I am a sucker for most oat-centric desserts. I mean, can we agree that oatmeal cookies are one of life’s greatest pleasures?
In fact, my all-time fave ice cream flavor is Ben & Jerry’s “Oat of this World” which has caramel and oatmeal cookie dough pieces. CAN YOU EVEN?? These bars kinda remind me of that addictive ice cream but in the gooiest, chewiest, most delicious bars.
And truly, they couldn’t be easier to make – I promise! I know it seems daunting when working with caramel and multiple layers in the same dessert, but I can guarantee these bars will make you the most popular person.*
*bars have made me the most popular person with myself, because I ate them all instead of sharing
To make them, you need to make your oatmeal cookie dough, which is like a cross between oatmeal cookie dough and shortbread since there’s no egg in the mixture. It’s just salted butter, brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract beaten together until creamy. Then you’ll add in some flour, oats of course, and baking soda – no salt since we used salted butter, which really amps up the flavor and makes all the difference.
Press half of the oatmeal cookie dough into the bottom of a foil-lined and greased 8×8 inch pan and bake it for a few minutes to really solidify that base. You want to pre-bake the bottom crust so it’s stable enough to support the weight of all that luscious caramel!
While the crust bakes, make your caramel: it’s simply caramel bits and heavy cream melted low and slow in a saucepan over medium-low heat until thick and rich. I like using Kraft’s Caramel Bits because they’re like little round caramel balls that melt soo much faster and there’s nothing to tediously unwrap!
Briefly remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips, then pour over your caramel. Try not to groan with excitement. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal cookie dough evenly over the surface of the caramel and return the pan to the oven to bake some more.
The most torturous part of this recipe is letting it cool completely so it has a chance to set; otherwise, you’ll cut into delicious albeit messy bars. I like to make these bars a day ahead of time so I can actually chill them in the fridge – this really helps the caramel set completely. However, if you chill them in the fridge, make sure you bring them to room temperature before serving! No one wants to break a filling on cold caramel – you’ve been warned!
Gooey, buttery, thick, rich, chewy Carmelitas. These are hands-down the best EVER!!
*adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen
- One 11-ounce package Kraft caramel bits (or 1 bag caramel squares, unwrapped)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup salted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray. Trust me, you will want to line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy removal later!
- In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, flour, oats, and baking soda with a spoon until combined. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven but keep oven on.
- While the crust bakes, in a small saucepan combine the caramels and heavy cream over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Pour the caramel over the chocolate chip layer. Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie dough over the caramel layer evenly. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the caramel is just about set. It may jiggle a little, but should not be sloshing around in the pan. Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate to set for at least 1-2 hours. Let bars come to room temperature before consuming, as cold caramel is not great for teeth!
I can’t even handle the gooey factor of these dreamy bars!
Have a super sweet day!