Carmelitas are a no-mixing-necessary, layered bar. The crust and topping are both made with the same buttery, brown sugar, vanilla-infused oatmeal and flour mixture. In the middle, there’s chocolate and caramel sauce. They’re comparable to a soft oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with a streusel-crumble topping. The amount of melted caramel in this recipe probably even supersedes the number of napkins you have on hand.
The oats provide a light amount of texture and chewiness to the otherwise buttery-soft bars, just oozing with decadent caramel flavor. You can add salt, to taste, to the caramel sauce for salted carmelitas.
I melt the caramels with heavy cream (I use the microwave, but the stovetop works great too), and while I haven’t tried using a jarred sauce like Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel, I think you’d be okay; I’d use 1 1/2 jars. You must let these bars sit for at least 4 hours before slicing, but overnight is strongly recommended.
- 3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick; I use unsalted butter but salted may be used)
- 3/ 4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 35 caramel squares, unwrapped (I used Werther’s Originals Baking Caramels which are slightly bigger than cellophane-wrapped caramels; if using those, I recommend using a couple more)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
- 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combo)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside.
- In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with a spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
- Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
- In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels, cream, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth.
- Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.
- After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
- Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
- Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
- Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
- Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in the fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don’t wait for bars to cool completely, they’ll be a literal hot mess. They’ll taste fine (don’t burn yourself), but they won’t slice neatly with clean cuts. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
I LOVE carmelitas because they are a sweet slice of heaven in each little bite! Who doesn’t love oatmeal, chocolate and gooey caramel?! They are simple to make and sure to win over any crowd!
I’m Angie, former school psychologist-turned SAHM! I have two babies, Finn (3) and Bridgette (2) and a loving husband, Matt! We live in sunny North Carolina and enjoy the outdoors and some football! I love to craft and photography is my current passion. Becoming a mother has changed me for the better and each day I remember that life is too short to be anything but happy. Say hi to me on Instagram, @OurHumbleTribe.