I have a few hundred recipes bookmarked and about fifty more printed that I want to try. Some were added to the list as recently as this week, while others have been sitting in the pile just waiting to be made for years. Because I only bake a couple times a week at most, and there are a bunch of recipes I love so much I can’t help but make them over and over again, these really yummy looking recipes don’t make it onto the baking agenda as often as I’d like. I hope I have the chance to make them all one day, as when I do get around to making them, after contemplating doing so forever, they tend to turn out really well.
Carmelitas were one of those recipes. I’ve thought about making them a bunch of times, but I either didn’t have all of the ingredients or went with something else. The baking planets aligned this week though, with all of the ingredients available, moving Carmelitas from just a bookmark to the oven. Like so many of these recipes, I wish I wouldn’t have waited this long to make them. With the first tiny taste, I was basically jumping up and down with dessert happiness.
These kind of unassuming looking bars, a little brown and blah, crumbly, make you think they’ll be just another bar; they’ll be good, but not amazing. One bite is all it will take to change your mind. These are insanely delicious. The oatmeal cookie crust on the top and bottom is soft and chewy with that great oatmeal texture, while the gooey caramel fills the middle. It sets enough so it doesn’t ooze out everywhere, but still has that magnificent caramel flavor and texture. I loved the salted caramel recipe before it went into these bars, but it is out of this world stuck in the middle of oaty goodness. Then there’s the crunch of the pecans. Not too much, but just enough to give the bars a little something extra. Be sure to try an end piece, where you get the best of both worlds: that dense, soft, chewy middle, and the slightly crispy edge with caramel that while still soft has been baked slightly harder, giving it an entirely different texture.
A small bar is plenty, as they are very rich. They’re great for entertaining, sharing, and snacking. They’re really great anytime, anywhere. I have a new recipe to add to the pile of favorites that is always in rotation. If I could, I’d make these at least once a month. I have a feeling you’ll feel the same way.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups old fashioned oats
- 1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce, which you can find here or in the previous post
- 2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan. Then line the pan with parchment, leaving enough overhang to be able to pull the bars out in one piece, and butter the parchment.
- In a large bowl, mix together the 2 cups of flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter. You may use a mixer, wooden spoon, your hands, or a combination. I found the spoon and hands to be good enough; no mixer required. Mix until well combined, but still slightly crumbly. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions.
- Press half the crumb mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly while preparing the next step.
- Stir 2 ½ tablespoons flour into the salted caramel sauce until fully combined. Sprinkle pecans evenly over baked crust. Spread the caramel evenly over the crust and pecans. It is okay is some of the pecans get mixed in. The caramel should cover the entire surface of the crust. Sprinkle the other half of the crumb mixture over the caramel. It should cover all the caramel quite generously.
- Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. The crust will begin to turn very light brown and the caramel will be bubbling. Though the bars may look underbaked and be very soft to the touch, they are completely baked and will firm up as they cool.
- Cool completely before cutting into bars and serving or the caramel will be too soft and sticky. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months.