Back in elementary school, before rampant food allergies and organic panic, kids used to bring treats on their birthdays to share with the class. What a great idea! “Today is my special day, so here’s something delicious to make you happy.” In that same vein, I made these to celebrate my birthday in February. This is the recipe I started with: Buzzfeed’s Carmelitas
My notes: While gooey caramel oozing out when you bite down makes for a very sultry photo opp, it also makes the carmelitas a little hard to eat with dignity, so I used a little less heavy cream. I also added a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt over the melty caramels, although my tasters were split on if they could detect the salt or not. I would recommend buttering/spraying up the sides of the pan in addition to the parchment, and also pressing the final sprinkling of chocolate chips into the oatmeal topping to anchor them. I used the mini chips and after the carmelitas were baked and cooled, a lot of the chips ended up just rolling off.
2 cups quick oats*
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt, plus additional if you like your caramel salted
1 cup melted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
50 soft caramels, unwrapped (this always takes longer than I expect!)
1/3 cup heavy cream
*If you don’t have quick oats, you can briefly buzz half of the old-fashioned oats in a blender or food processor and then stir the pieces back in with the whole oats. That’s what I did for the carmelitas in the photo.
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, and melted butter. Mix with a fork until combined and crumbly.
3. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat paper and sides of dish with a nonstick spray.
4. Pour about 1/2 of the oat mixture into the pan and press with the back of a spoon or spatula until it’s firm.
5. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of chocolate chips over the oat mixture and spread them out evenly. Save the 1/2 cup for the top.
6. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the soft caramels into the heavy cream until it becomes smooth.
7. Pour melted caramel over the chocolate chips and oat mixture. Carefully spread the caramel until it covers the chocolate, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired.
8. Pour the rest of the oat mixture over the caramel and spread out evenly.
9. Add the other 1/2 cup of chocolate chips on top and press lightly into the oats.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust has turned a golden brown.
11. Allow to cool and cut into bars.
Yield: 24 bars, although I cut about half of them into smaller pieces because these are quite rich.
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