Carmelitas are the way to satisfy any sweet tooth. Who can resist a layer of melted caramel and chocolate sandwiched between a shortbread crust and oatmeal topping?
They are the perfect balance of buttery shortbread, creamy chocolate, rich caramel, and a crumbly oat topping.
Carmelitas are one of those desserts that we don't make very often, but when we do, they don't last very long.
They are a little on the messy side but so worth it. Just a quick tip, it's best to read the recipe all the way through before getting started.
There are several different parts and steps, and the bars have to set in the fridge for a while before serving.
These bars are best made over the weekend or on a day where you'll have plenty of time to devote to baking.
Since this recipe contains several steps, I've included them in the post and included some tips, as well as, a condensed version in the recipe card.
Within a day or two of the post going live, there will also be a video showing the process.
If you watch the video through until the end, you'll see what happens when the Chocolate Oat Carmelita Bars are cut just a wee bit too soon.
It's really important to let them cool completely. More about that later.
Prep the Pan:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cover an 8 x 8-inch pan completely with parchment paper.
The parchment paper should wrap around the sides to ensure the contents don't spill over into the pan while cooking.
Using parchment paper helps with clean up and keeps the gooey caramel from sticking to the sides.
Make the Crust:
Using a hand or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the softened butter, brown sugar, salt and flour into a soft dough resembling loose cornmeal.
The dough should hold together when pressed.
Place the dough into the prepared pan and press evenly to cover the bottom. Cook the mixture on 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cooking times may vary depending on pan type and oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Either way, place the contents of the entire bag of caramels into a saucepan with the heavy cream.
Cook over medium heat while stirring every couple of minutes until the mixture will begin to melt. At that point, constantly stir to keep it from burning.
After the caramel has melted and is combined with the heavy cream, it's ready to be added to the crust.
Before adding the caramel, sprinkle 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the cooled crust.
Next, carefully pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips.
Make the Top Crust:
Using a mixer or a large spoon and mix the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
The mixture will be thick and should hold together when pressed. Using your fingers or a spoon, place the mixture on top of the caramel in a layer.
It's okay if some of the caramel seeps through.
Cook the Carmelitas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Caramel may begin to bubble slightly and oat topping will start to brown. Be careful not to overcook because the caramel will burn.
Remove the carmelitas from the oven and allow them to cool for about 30 minutes before transferring them to the refrigerator.
Cool and Serving:
Place the pan of carmelitas in the fridge and allow to chill until set. This is where I messed up in the video, and I knew better.
It was later, and I was trying to get the video finished. I didn't leave the bars in the fridge quite long enough, so the chocolate and caramel was a hot mess. Quite literally!
The good thing about the caramel sauce in this recipe is that it will still be gooey even after refrigeration.
Cut the dessert into squares and serve. After the carmelitas cool in the refrigerator, remove and place on the counter for storing.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (½ + 6 tablespoons of butter)
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Caramel and Chocolate Filling
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 10 ounces caramel squares, or caramel bits
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup old fashioned oats
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F, and line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, combine all ingredients for the shortbread crust on low speed until soft, crumbly dough forms. Place the dough into prepared pan and press evenly.14 tablespoons unsalted butter½ cup light brown sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt2 cups all-purpose flour
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown then remove from the oven to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (for a later step).
Caramel and Chocolate Filling
- Sprinkle the cup of chocolate chips over the cooled crust.1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a saucepan, combine caramel squares (or bits) and heavy cream.10 ounces caramel squares½ cup heavy cream
- Cook over medium heat and stir every couple of minutes until the mixture begins to melt. Once the mixture starts to melt, stir continuously.
- After caramel mixture melts, pour over the chocolate chips.
- Using a mixer or a large spoon and bowl, combine all ingredients for the oatmeal crust. A soft mixture will form and should hold its shape when pressed. Using your fingers or a spoon, place the mixture on top of the caramel.6 tablespoons unsalted butter⅓ cup light brown sugar½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract½ cup all-purpose flour½ cup old fashioned oats½ teaspoon baking soda¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Bake for 15 minutes. The caramel will begin to bubble and oatmeal topping will start to brown. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator. Let the bars chill in the refrigerator until set completely.
- Cut into squares and serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.