Carmelitas are one of the most heavenly, decadent desserts that will ever pass your lips. It's an easy, one bowl, no mixer recipe that starts with a buttery, brown sugar, and oatmeal crust. The crust also doubles as the crumbly topping. Bake the crust briefly and top it with chocolate chips, candied pecans, and salted caramel before sprinkling on the oatmeal crumbles. Biting through the layers of the chewy oatmeal crust, the chocolate chips, the crunchy pecans, the salty-and-sweet caramel sauce that's gooey and wonderful, and the crisp topping is pure heaven.

YIELD: one 8x8-inch pan, 9 to 12 generous squares PREP TIME: 5 minutes COOK TIME: about 25 minutes, divided TOTAL TIME: 3+ hours, for cooling

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks; I use unsalted butter but salted may be used)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 10 ounces salted caramel sauce (I used a thick storebought sauce or recommend this homemade sauce; don't use ice cream sundae topping because it's too thin and runny)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup candied pecan halves (use this recipe to candy them; non-candied pecans may be substituted)


1-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside.

2-To a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 to 120 seconds.

3-Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.

4-Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and stir until combined.

5-Turn half of the mixture out into the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula to create an even, smooth, flat crust layer; set remainder aside. Bake crust for 10 minutes.

6-After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips, pecans, and evenly pour the caramel sauce over the top. The sauce I used is very thick but with patience it can be spread with a spatula to completely cover pan.

7-Evenly crumble the reserved oatmeal mixture over the top like small pebbles, approximately 1/4-inch in diameter.

8-Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 16 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set.

9-Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 3 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don't wait for bars to cool completely, they'll be very messy and hard to slice neatly. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Adapted from Carmelitas

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