Carmelitas (Oatmeal Caramel Bars)

Caramelitas are the ultimate dessert for anyone who loves the combination of oats, chocolate, and caramel. Imagine this: a layer of buttery, crumbly oat mixture forms the base of this treat. It’s then topped with a lavish spread of chocolate chips, melding seamlessly with a rich, smooth caramel sauce. But that’s not all. The pièce de résistance is another layer of the oat mixture, sprinkled on top to create a crumbly, golden crust. Once baked, these layers fuse into a symphony of textures and flavors, resulting in a dessert that’s irresistibly gooey and rich.

Every bite of caramelitas offers a delightful contrast between the crunchy oat base and topping, and the soft, melting heart of chocolate and caramel within. It’s a dessert that’s not just a treat for the taste buds, but also a feast for the eyes, with its inviting layers and gooey caramel peeking out.

For those eager to try their hand at this heavenly creation, whether you’re a seasoned baker or a novice, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, the quality of the caramel sauce can make or break this dessert. Opt for a thick, high-quality caramel that will hold up in the oven without becoming too runny. When layering the chocolate chips, feel free to be generous – they create a decadent, chocolatey middle that complements the caramel perfectly.

As for the oat mixture, make sure it’s crumbly but sticks together slightly; this helps in forming a firm base and a crumbly top that doesn’t fall apart too easily. Patience is key when baking caramelitas; they need to be fully cooled before slicing to ensure each piece holds together beautifully. Ready to embark on your baking adventure? Let’s dive into making these delicious caramelitas, a treat that promises to be as fun to make as it is to eat.

Ingredient Selection:

Butter: Use unsalted butter for this recipe. It’s essential for creating that rich, buttery flavor.

Oats: Opt for old-fashioned rolled oats. They provide the perfect texture and flavor. Avoid using instant oats, as they can become too mushy.

Flour: All-purpose flour is your best bet. It binds the ingredients together and ensures the right consistency.

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds a deep, caramelized flavor. Make sure it’s packed in the measuring cup for accurate measurements.

Baking Soda: This helps with the texture and leavening, giving your caramelitas the right amount of lift.

Salt: Just a pinch of salt enhances the overall flavor and balances the sweetness.

Vanilla Extract: A touch of vanilla extract elevates the taste of your caramelitas.

Chocolate Chips: You can choose between semisweet or milk chocolate chips based on your preference. Dark chocolate chips are also a great choice if you prefer a richer flavor.

Caramel Sauce: You can use store-bought caramel sauce for convenience or try your hand at making homemade caramel for an extra special touch.

Nuts (Optional): If you enjoy a bit of crunch and extra flavor, consider adding chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts.

Preparation Tips:

Grease the Pan: Don’t forget to grease your baking pan before starting. It makes it easier to remove the caramelitas once they’re baked.

Press the Oat Mixture: When pressing the oat mixture into the pan, use the back of a spoon or a spatula to create an even and compact layer. This forms the foundation of your caramelitas.

Cool Completely: Allow the caramelitas to cool completely in the pan before cutting them. This ensures that they set properly and hold their shape.

Variations and Substitutions:

Nut-Free: If allergies are a concern, simply omit the nuts or replace them with seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

Gluten-Free: To make this recipe gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats and a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.

Fruit Additions: Get creative by adding dried fruit like raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried apricots for a fruity twist.

Spices: Add warmth and depth of flavor by including spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to the oat mixture.

Caramel Swirl: Instead of pouring all the caramel sauce on top, you can create a caramel swirl by drizzling some on top and then using a toothpick or knife to create a marbled effect.



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup caramel sauce (you can use store-bought or make your own)

1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until the mixture is crumbly.

Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan to form a crust. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips and chopped nuts (if using) evenly over the crust.

Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and nuts.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the top as evenly as possible.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown, and the caramel is bubbling.

Allow the caramelitas to cool completely in the pan before cutting them into squares.

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