Carmelitas

These bars are like the bubblegum with the squishy, squirty center that oozes when you chomp down.

Except it’s rich, creamy, buttery caramel that squirts in your mouth when you bite down here.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

They’re like the softest oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, with a streusel-crumble topping, and more melted caramel than you have napkins for, and that’s beautiful.

I’ve been wanting to (re)make these bars for years, and I’m so glad I did.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

They’re a no-mixer, layered bar and are an adaptation of my early 2012 Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars.

In this version I tinkered with the flour and oat ratio, increasing the flour and decreasing the oats slightly, so the bars hold together better.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

The crust and topping are made with the same mixture. It’s a buttery, brown sugar, vanilla-infused oatmeal and flour mixture.

Half is pressed into the pan and baked for 10 minutes as the crust, and the other half of the big buttery crumbs are crumbled over the top. Below, is after 10 minutes of baking.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

The filling is just caramels and heavy cream melted together. I melted in the micro, but use the stovetop if you prefer. I used Werther’s Baking Caramels. I love these caramels because the wax paper just slides right off making unwrapping 30+ caramels a quick and easy job, rather than caramels with pesky cellophane, which is a huge strugglefest.

I haven’t tried using jarred caramel sauce, but I have a feeling a thick, higher quality jarred sauce would be fine. If anyone tries Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Sauce, let me know how it goes. That would be my first choice if I wasn’t melted caramels with cream.

After baking the crust for 10 minutes, sprinkle with chocolate, drizzle with caramel sauce, and crumble the reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the center is bubbly and the edges are just set and lightly browned.

It’s very important to allow the bars to cool completely before slicing. It can up to take 4 hours, or overnight, at room temp. You can speed it along by placing pan in the fridge, but I made them in the evening, cooled overnight, and they were set by the next morning. However ‘set’ is a relative term. You can see they’re still plenty drippy and gooey.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

If you slice the bars before they’ve cooled completely, you’ll have a literal hot mess with molten caramel and melted chocolate all over. They’ll taste fine (as long as you don’t burn your mouth on hot caramel), but you’ll have no chance for clean cuts or pretty bars that stay intact.

Plus, I think bars like this taste better the next day after the flavors have married. The caramel and chocolate also has a chance to soak into all the nooks and crannies of the oats.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Even after the bars are fully cooled, they’re soft, gooey, messy, and full of intense caramel flavor. The butter and brown sugar in the crust-topping mixture caramelize while baking, adding even more caramel flavor.

Carmelitas - Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe. With a name like that, they have to be good!!

If you’re easily bothered by desserts that are ‘too sweet or too rich’, I wouldn’t recommend these because they’re both. However, adding a pinch of salt helps balance the sweetness. I included places in the recipe where you can add salt, to the crust-topping mixture, and/or to the caramel sauce, creating salted caramel sauce.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

The semi-sweet chocolate is a great balance to the sweet caramel and chocolate is always welcome in any dessert I’m having.

The oats provide a light amount of texture and chewiness to the otherwise buttery-soft bars, just oozing with caramel everywhere. They aren’t called carmelitas for nothing.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

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Carmelitas

Carmelitas are a no-mixer, layered bar, and the crust and topping are made with the same buttery, brown sugar, vanilla-infused oatmeal and flour mixture. In the middle there's chocolate and caramel sauce. They're like the softest oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, with a streusel-crumble topping, and more melted caramel than you have napkins for. The oats provide a light amount of texture and chewiness to the otherwise buttery-soft bars, just oozing with juicy caramel everywhere. You can add salt, to taste, to the caramel sauce for salted carmelitas. I melted caramels with heavy cream (in the micro, use stovetop if you prefer), and while I haven't tried using a jarred sauce like Trader Joe's Salted Caramel, I think you'd be okay; I'd use 1 1/2 jars. You must let these bars set up for at least 4 hours before slicing, but overnight is strongly recommended.

Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 to 28 minutes, divided

Total Time: 4+ hours or overnight, for proper cooling

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick; 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 whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
35 caramel squares, unwrapped (I used Werther's Originals Baking Caramels which are slightly bigger than cellophane-wrapped caramels; if using those, I recommend using a couple more)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combo)

Directions:

  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. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
  5. Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
  7. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels, cream, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  8. Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, for salted caramel sauce; set sauce aside.
  9. After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
  10. Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
  11. Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
  12. Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
  13. 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 4 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 a literal hot mess. They'll taste fine (don't burn yourself), but they won't slice neatly with clean cuts. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Recipe adapted from my Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars

Related Recipes

Many blogging friends have made carmelita recipes. Check out Jaclyn’s Salted CarmelitasAlyssa’s CarmelitasLulu The Baker’s Carmelistas, Michelle’s Oatmeal Carmelita Bars, Tracey’s Salted Carmelita Bars, and Shelly’s Carmelita Cookies

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (GF) – The bars that inspired today’s recipe

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars - Easy Recipe at averiecooks.com

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

Dulce de Leche Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars - Chocolate, white chocolate & coconut flooded with dulce de leche! Like 7-Layer Bars, with sweet, creamy, caramely dulce de leche instead! Easy one-bowl recipe at averiecooks.com

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars (almost no-bake) – One of the favorite 2013 bars

Caramel Peanut Butter and Apricot Jelly Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation)

Caramel Peanut Butter and Apricot Jelly Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation)

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars - Easy, One-Bowl Recipe at averiecooks.com

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups - Easy, No-Mixer, Foolproof Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe at averiecooks.com

Hot Fudge and Salted Caramel Blondies

Hot Fudge and Salted Caramel Blondies - Two favorite ice cream toppings baked into soft, chewy & gooey bars! Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

   

135 Responses to “Carmelitas”

  1. #
    51
    Jaclyn — January 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I love these photos! That drippy caramel is killing me! I need one :). Great job Averie!

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Kate@Diethood — January 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Gooey, chewy… they look incredible! I lurrrrve carmelitas!

    Reply

  3. #
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    Amanda — January 3, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I just want to say YUM! I found your blog via pinterest and I don’t want to leave lol. Thank you for all the yummy treat ideas…wow! And thank you for all the pictures, so many blogs have one picture or none…keep em’ coming! (btw – you have a new subscriber ;) )

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 3rd, 2014 at 11:43 am

      That’s great to hear and thanks for finding me and the compliments!

      Reply

  4. #
    54
    Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures — January 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    These look so gooey and delicious! I always get a carmelita bar when I go to Whole Foods. I should make my own, but I’m a little afraid I’ll eat the whole pan!

    Reply

  5. #
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    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes — January 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Carmelitas are one of my favorite bar cookies. I’ll have to try your version. They look fantastic.

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — January 3, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Dude, say no more. Screw the new year’s diet. That dripping caramel has me totally sold!

    Reply

  7. #
    57
    Christine — January 3, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    I made these tonight for a party my mother is going to tomorrow, and they’re cooling on my dining room table presently. Rather than the dark chocolate in the middle, I thought they were crying out for milk chocolate and sweetened shredded coconut – a la Girl Scout cookies Samoas. I’m sure however the caramel is accompanied, they’ll be as enjoyed as anything else I’ve made from your blog. :)

    I also want to say publicly (and I’ll probably leave you a facebook wall post imminently to this effect, because public praise is nice) I’ve been following you for about a year and learned so much about the science of baking. It’s nice to get an education from food blogs, not just recipes! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 3rd, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      What a wonderful comment (and I posted to the FB wall before I saw this comment come in, so here it is again)! First, thanks for saying that you feel I educate you about baking, not just provide recipes. That’s so nice to hear. Everything I know I am self-taught and try to pass along the gems and what I think works!

      Next – Samoas style bars. OMG that sounds SO GOOD! They will surely be the talk of the party! And you are so smart to just let them cool overnight. They’re going to be PERFECT tomorrow. Please lmk what people think!

      Reply

  8. #
    58
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked — January 8, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Happy New Year, Averie! Girl, these carmelitas look heavenly. That oozing middle layer of caramel is calling my name!

    Reply

  9. #
    59
    Gina Moore — January 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Carmelitas are my signature baked good that I always make and get asked to make! Just fyi- after making these so many times I prefer the jarred caramel that is by the icecream- I usually get the Smuckers brand- it just makes them easier to make (no unwrapping) and also I think they are easier to cut- I also let mine sit overnight and then I flip them upside down and cut them that way. Seriously my fave!

    Reply

  10. #
    60
    April Cooksey — January 26, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I can’t wait to try these, but a friend was just diagnosed with celiacs (sp?). Can the flour be rice flour? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 26th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      I would use an all-purpose baking blend such as Bob’s. Use a blend, not just one flour (i.e. rice). Blends tend to produce better results in recipes like this.

      Reply

  11. #
    61
    Cherie — January 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    These are delicious! I substituted white flour for 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 white flour, used dark choco chips (that’s what I had on hand) & added brewers yeast (2tbsp) and flaxseed (1/2 cup) to make them lactation Carmelita’s! I nurse so this is better than the usual lactation cookie :) thank you

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 27th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Great to hear your loved them and your tweaks worked out well for you!

      Reply

  12. #
    62
    capturing joy with kristen duke — January 28, 2014 at 9:50 am

    These look amazing!!

    Reply

  13. #
    63
    Jo — January 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    If you are interested in a little less messy Carmelitas bar, go visit Oatmeal Carmelitas, a 1967 winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off by Erlyce Larson Kennedy. You will find it at http://www.pillsburybaking.com/recipes/details/2296. It was on the flour bag for quite a while.

    Jo in MN

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 31st, 2014 at 2:44 am

      I much prefer the ooey-gooey loaded with caramel version but to each her own!

      Reply

  14. #
    64
    Joyce — February 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Love the looks of these bar cookies.I will be making them soon.

    Reply

  15. #
    65
    Yolanda — February 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Avery, these look delicious! I was wanting to make these this week. Do you think they can be shaped with cookie cutters or are they too gooey?

    Reply

  16. #
    66
    Kelly — February 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Just made these tonight and they look and smell amazing. I am bringing them into work tomorrow for a carry-in and I expect this recipe to get rave reviews!

    I used dark chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet since that’s what I happened to have on hand. I also added about 1/4 of a teaspoon of sea salt to the caramel sauce (and also added the pinch of salt to the sugar-butter mixture).

    Aside from that, I followed the recipe to a T. I can’t wait to check back in and tell you how amazing we all thought they were!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 19th, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Your dark choc chips, and pinches of salt, sound perfect! You have very lucky coworkers! LMK how it goes over! :)

      Reply

  17. #
    67
    Kelly — February 19, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Update: I brought these into work today. One word (per my coworker): DIVINE. They were simply amazing.

    I’ve never gotten a more positive response from baked goods I’ve brought into work. Ever. And that says a lot considering my homemade salted caramel brownies have been a HUGE hit in the newsroom where I work.

    Thanks so much for the delicious (and easy) recipe! I will definitely start to check out this blog more :-)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 19th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      I’ve never gotten a more positive response from baked goods I’ve brought into work. Ever. <— THAT is awesome and sounds like you know how to bake and your own caramel brownies sound delish! Keep me posted what else you make from my site!

      Reply

  18. #
    68
    Ada grant — February 20, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Omg I am in love with you . Have you ever tried and used homemade caramel from sweetened cond. milk. Take several cans sweetened cond. milk tear off label. I have and will not use the type with pull off lids . Boil the cans in water covering cans. Add water as needed. I boil about 3-4hours. Then DO NOT OPEN TILL COOL!!!!!!!!!!! Once you have cooked the milk like,this omg the cans hold a wonderful surprise!!!!!caramel from heaven!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  19. #
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    Danie — February 23, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Hi!!! I just stumbled upon your site and this amazing sounding recipe! Quick question: I want to try and make these; however, soft caramels are impossible to find where I live! But, I did find an amazing – though somewhat pricey – salted caramel sauce and was wondering about how much of it I need to use? So basically, what I am asking is: when you’ve made your own caramel sauce approximately how much “sauce” did your 30 caramels and cream yield?
    Thanks so much! Super excited to try these!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — February 23rd, 2014 at 9:45 am

      I would say about 1 cup, although I didn’t measure it out that way, but I’d guess about 1 cup, give or take. You can see from one of the process shots just how flooded the pan is; I would try to replicate that more or less. Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Danie replied: — February 23rd, 2014 at 8:37 pm

        Thanks!!!

  20. #
    70
    Tara — March 1, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Thank you for posting these Carmelitas! I have been eating them for about 15 years from our local coffee shop Whistle Stop and when they sold the new owner wouldn’t make these (nor share the recipe, imagine that). I made them and they are perfect!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — March 1st, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      So glad you can make these yourself now (and not be dependent on someone who doesn’t want to share their recipe!) Glad you loved them and they’re perfect!

      Reply

  21. #
    71
    Miff — March 30, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Hey! I love your idea and plan on trying it tomorrow but my question is that can you substitute the brown sugar with something else? Can I use white sugar instead?
    Thank you and I would very much appreciate it if I get a fast reply because I need it ASAP.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — March 30th, 2014 at 7:50 am

      There really aren’t any subs in order to create the caramely results you need and that these bars are known for.

      Reply

  22. #
    72
    Brittany — June 12, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I just made these using Trader Joe’s salted caramel sauce. They are cooling on my counter as we speak. :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — June 13th, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Oh I know you’re going to be in for a treat! Thanks for trying them and TJ’s caramel is great stuff – cannot go wrong with it!

      Reply

  23. #
    73
    Anita Torres — July 29, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Best. Bars. Ever.
    That said, I had better luck using baking paper than foil which can get stuck in the nooks and crannies. I cut a square out of each corner so the sides can be folded up with a nice sharp crease. when you are done, you can actually lift the whole pan out by the paper which is very handy. Oh, and I used your salted caramel recipe for the caramel and it was lovely….Thanks!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 29th, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Glad you loved the bars and they’re the best ever! I’m the opposite of you with parchment/foil. I use Reynold’s Heavy Duty (it’s definitely thicker and stronger than avg foil) and never have an issue but glad parchment works great for you!

      So glad you tried my homemade caramel sauce and used it here. Wow, awesome!

      Reply

  24. #
    74
    Melissa — August 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    These look amazing! I can’t wait to try them! I’m thinking of subbing Carmel sauce for the wrapped carmels. Would I omit the heavy cream?
    Thanks!

    Reply

  25. #
    75
    Margie — August 19, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    looks really yummy. Can I use home made caramel sauce? What is the calorie count on these?

    Reply

  26. #
    76
    Sara — September 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    These look UH-MAZING. I’m making them right now. Would I be able to use cool whip instead of the heavy cream or does that completely defeat the point? Thanks for this fabulous recipe!

    Reply

  27. #
    77
    Carissa V — September 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    These look amazing!! Where did you get your bowls? I have seen them before and love them!

    Reply

  28. #
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    Bridget — September 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

    If I have 11.5 ou of caramel sauce do I combine that with the heavy cream? Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 26th, 2014 at 10:33 am

      No, that would just thin it out and make it runnier. Use as is.

      Reply

  29. #
    79
    Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog — September 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    All of your photos are so gorgeous!

    Reply

  30. #
    80
    Lisa — October 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Made these Sunday but cooked longer than you wrote to make sure they didn’t fall apart (my oven is funky and usually needs more time). They were good, but then I made them again yesterday. Used 1/2 werthers/1/2 kraft caramels & baked only 1 minute longer. They were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!

    Thank you – this recipe is a keeper : )

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 3rd, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Sometimes just a minute or two in the oven can really make a difference and glad you found that perfect ‘sweet spot’ and they’re amazing!

      Reply

  31. #
    81
    Andrea — October 6, 2014 at 10:36 am

    hi there, really want to make these, but I have a question. If I can’t find the caramels you use in your recipe, can I make an “ordinary” home made sauce instead, like your salted caramel sauce? I don’t get Werther’s baking caramel here in Spain.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 6th, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Yes for sure, just make a normal caramel sauce like my homemade version or your favorite (or use a storebought THICK sauce to save time). Enjoy!

      Reply

  32. #
    82
    Amanda — October 8, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Mmm, these look amazing! One ingredient I don’t have is the heavy cream though – do you think I could try to make the caramel sauce using just a tiny bit of skim milk instead? (Not too much, though, because I don’t want them to be too runny!)

    Reply

    • shirley replied: — October 11th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      These look delicious. Can you substitute quick oats or minute oats instead of whole oats? I know you said not to but I was wondering why you couldn’t.

      Reply

      • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 11th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        Because they behave more like flour. Don’t do it. They bars will be dry and/or the recipe won’t work properly.

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