Caramelitas are my all-time favorite bar cookie. Gooey caramel, chocolate, and oatmeal—these cookies satisfy all of my sweet cravings, but I like to pretend they are a little bit healthy with the whole wheat flour. And they are an easy cookie to make with the kids.
[Updated February 22, 2011.]
Makes 16 small bars.
microwave-safe bowl or a double boiler
stand mixer with paddle attachment, or hand mixer and large bowl
8×8 baking pan, ungreased
32 caramels, unwrapped
5 tablespoons heavy cream (can substitute half & half or evaporated milk)
3/4 cup (83 g) brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (128 g) white whole wheat flour
1 cup (80 g) rolled or quick cooking oats
1 cup (175 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (38 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175 C°.
2. Put the caramels and cream in the microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds and stir. Repeat until caramels are all melted and cream is incorporated. (Or, melt caramels and cream or in the double boiler, stirring frequently, until blended and creamy.)
3. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix brown sugar, melted butter, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add the flour and oats and stir on low speed. The mixture should be crumbly.
4. Use your fingers to spread 2/3 of the oatmeal mixture in the bottom of the ungreased 8×8 pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the crust. Spread the caramel mixture over the chocolate chips and nuts, then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the caramel mixture.
6. Bake again for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
7. Allow to cool for 1-2 hours before serving.
To double the recipe, use a 9×13 pan and allow about 30 minutes for the final baking.