Oatmeal Carmelitas!

Some time back in the ’90s, I was the only female on an otherwise all-male trade execution desk for a major brokerage firm. I liked to bake but didn’t have roommates for a time, and I sure didn’t need to eat all that sugary goodness on my own, so I routinely brought my bounty into work to share. Basically, I was the desk mom.

One day my boss, who was divorced, was bemoaning how much he missed a dessert his ex-wife would make. He would do ANYTHING to get another helping of this wonderful dessert. He said he would buy me cookbooks if I would only make this dessert.

I’m slightly addicted to cookbooks, too, and so I searched until I found the recipe (and got a few still well-loved cookbooks out of the deal). That recipe was for an easy dessert bar called Oatmeal Carmelitas. They are made with just a few ingredients and you can easily add or substitute fillings as your tastes demand! I also like these with shredded coconut, or try substituting the chocolate chips for chopped baking apples. You can also replace the caramel topping with Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel topping…yum!

oatmeal carmelitas

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Crust:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 C quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 C margarine or butter, softened (I like butter. Yum.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Filling:

  • 1 C caramel ice cream topping*
  • 2-1/2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C chopped nuts (I like pecans)

Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9×13″ pan or line with parchment paper. (I prefer to line my pan to make it easier to cut into bars)

In large bowl, mix all crust ingredients at low speed until mixture is crumbly. Press half of mixture in the bottom of your greased pan, reserving the rest. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, mix caramel topping with flour until well blended. (A 2-cup glass measuring cup works really well and aids in drizzling the caramel neatly.)

Sprinkle the finished crust with chocolate chips and nuts, then drizzle caramel sauce evenly over the top.

Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top, covering evenly.

Return the pan to the oven to bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours to set filling.

Cut into bars and store in an air-tight container!

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You may be surprised that the recipe says “makes 36 bars”. Every time I make this, I cut them bigger – enough to make 24 servings – forgetting how incredibly rich they are.

Also –  if your 9-year-old is helping you, make sure that she knows the difference between “sprinkle” and “pour”. My last batch had more chips than usual after my daughter neatly poured the entire cup into two mounds on the very warm base. I won’t complain about too much chocolate, ever, but, you know…it’s hard to spread melting chips.

These are a big hit with the kids and go perfectly with a tall glass of cold milk! Enjoy!

 

*Now that I’ve become more conscious about food ingredients, caramel ice cream toppings can be disappointingly full of things like high fructose corn syrup. If you want to substitute real caramel topping, it’s actually quite easy and the lovely Michelle at Honest and Truly includes has a recipe I love for making salted caramel sauce (which I think would taste AMAZING with dark chocolate chips) – but for this recipe you can also just stop before adding the salt at the end. If you do choose to make your own, make sure you follow her directions for the thicker version and as you only need one cup, you have all this lovely caramel left over.

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