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

Print Recipe

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

234 comments

  1. I just have to tell you, I think this is my favorite dessert recipe of all times! I have made this recipe probably 5 times and it turns out delicious every time!!! (5 times is a lot for me, usually I don’t make a recipe more than once) I have even made a half batch and put it in the bottom of a loaf pan (it was a goopy mess, but SOOO good) to make a mini-batch just for me :) thanks for creating such a yummy treat!!!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe so many times! Like you, I rarely make something more than once so I can completely relate to what you said! I’m glad to hear it’s possibly your fave dessert of ALL TIME! Wow, that’s a high compliment and thanks!

  2. These look delicious! MOUTH DROOLING! 

    totally gonna try them!

    Mind checking out my blog? I’m new, so all advice and tips are accepted! 

    https://packthefork.wordpress.com/

  3. I can’t wait to try doing this recipe. this looks super yummy! :)))

  4. Stephanie Greene Reply

    Made them with the  Trader Joe’s Fluer de Sel Caramel Sauce.  Perfect amount of salt with the sweet.  Great suggestion.  I wouldn’t have thought to buy it, but in a hurry to get them baked and ready to set and no time for messing with the caramels.  May never go back to the regular caramels and heavy cream option!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you with the TJs caramel sauce. I love that stuff and just used it tonight in a recipe that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks!

  5. I’ve made this twice so far… and I stress so far, because this has quickly become an all time fave. and I know I’ll look forward to making it many times in the future (in fact my 3rd time is definitely coming up this week). These treats were sooooo addictive. Thank you for the recipe!

  6. Dear Averie,
    I’m trying your recipe for the first time.  I’ve seen many recipes for the Carmelita’s but I liked yours the best because you set up great visuals and I liked how you tweaked the recipe.  I tweak all the time.  I’m up late with a dog so it was the right time to bake this.  No one is awake to be tempted!  I used Kraft caramels because we don’t have Worthers.  I quartered them before adding to the cream and nuking them.  I threw all of it together and then nuked for took two minutes stirring after each minute to melt.  Then I added a big pinch of kosher salt.  In the future I’m going to experiment with Himalayan salt and grey salt.  Love the idea of using chunks and chips.  I like dark chocolate so I’m going to do a mix.  I don’t even eat sweets but I do taste and so far I know my kids (4) will go crazy!  Oldest graduated from college, second degree, two others in college and one almost out of high school….it’s all about making meals that will make sure they always come home to visit.  I’ve got the savory side down.  The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the 1 Tbl of vanilla.  I’ve never seen that much used.  Last year one cookie recipe called for 3 tsps.  I used half.  I did the whole Tbl. Well find out tomorrow!  Thank-you!!!!

  7. Why old fashioned oats and not quick?

  8. Dominique Restucci Reply

    This recipe looked SO delish I had to try it out! It is cooking right now in the oven. The one thing I had real trouble with was putting the oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top of the caramel and chocolate. I felt like I didn’t have enough mixture to fully cover it all plus it was difficult to spread because of the caramel. How were you able to evenly spread the mixture? I used a spatula. 

    • If you felt like you didn’t have quite enough mixture then you probably just went a bit too heavy handed using it for the base (save more next time for the topping) and you don’t really spread it, you just ‘Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top’ per step 11 in directions. But sounds like things tasted just fine and they were a success!

  9. This just came out the oven five minutes ago. I am excited to taste them. 

  10. I brought this for my class presentation and they were all emptied out. “Best brownie ever” many people said. Thank you, this was absolutely delicious. 

  11. I made these last night with the Trader Joe’s caramel sauce and they turned out fabulous! I only used one jar, but that was plenty. Thank you for the recipe!

  12. This recipe was originally published in the early 1970’s Pillsbury cook-off books under the name of “Oatmeal Carmelitas”. I have been making them since the recipe first appeared!

  13. @Stephanie Greene – how much of TJ’s caramel sauce did you use?

  14. Just tried these out for work after spotting the post a couple of weeks back – yet to try one myself but they smell amazing and everyone in work was very impressed! Thanks for a great recipe, definitely going to be a regular one I make.

  15. I have made these multiple times and they are delicious! I am making them soon for a family gathering and they need to be gluten free. Has anyone ever tried using coconut flour instead of regular flour?

    • Eeek don’t use coconut flour in place of reg flour b/c it’s like a SPONGE and will suck the moisture out and not advisable to ever use straight coconut flour. Pick up something like a King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour blend and try that. I haven’t personally tried it here but that flour is dependable.

  16. These carmelitas are absolutely the best bar cookie I have ever eaten. I even made them and entered them in our county fair and won 1st place. I did cut down the milk for the caramels to 1/3 cup because I didn’t want the caramel quite so runny. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  17. How many oz does the caramel sauce make? I’ve got some homemade sauce on hand I was wondering if I could substitute in.

  18. How would you change this recipe to accommodate an 8.5×11 pan?
    Thank you!!!

  19. Can I double the recipe andd what size pan should I use

  20. Hi, I’m just wondering if you can think of a way to make these caramel chocolate bars less messy. Like maybe use less heavy cream or even omit it? I saw that someone else recommended using a bit of flour in the caramel mixture. Do you have any experience with that method? They look delicious, but I want to take them to a party, so I want people to be able to grab one and mingle without getting caramel all over themselves and my friend’s floor.

    • They’re not THAT messy that people will drip caramel on the floor but they are a sticky, gooey, messier dessert than say a cookie. They will be a hit, even if slightly messy, make them as written and enjoy!

  21. Great recipe but I found it a little too sweet for me. The one in the oven I’ve add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut to the crust. Looking forward to trying it with afternoon coffee.

  22. I’ve had this recipe pinned for a while now, but just made them last week. They were wonderful! I will definitely be making them again. Everyone loved them. Thank you for posting!

  23. I just saw the recepe on pinterest and can’t wait to try it. Since I’m from Argentina I will try replacing the caramels and cream for dulce de leche (milk candy spread). It’s delicious and you can make it just boiling a closed can of condensed milk in water. The longer you boil it, the thicker it will turn out.

  24. Thanks for replying! I made them yesterday and they were really good. My kids took some to school this morning :)

  25. This might be the best thing I’ve EVER seen on the internet. Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I can’t wait to try these, they are completely new to me.

  26. I tried the recipe today and loved it. I was just curious if there is something I can do to make the oatmeal portion a little less crumbly? I want to make them for a party this weekend, but they were sort of falling a part and a little messy. Thanks!

  27. OMG these are incredible. Honestly one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. Thanks for this great recipe :) 

  28. I made these for Christmas day. I didn’t have large caramel squares and didn’t have a lot of extras, so I literally added two. They weren’t goopy like your pictures, but they were sooo delicious. I got a bunch of compliments. Will definitely make them again.

  29. Can i use dulce de leche insted of the caramels? Do i still need the heavy cream if so?

  30. Just made it for a family dinner party tonight and everyone loved it!

  31. Hi, I live in the uk, and we don’t really have baking caramels available. Can I use ready made caramel sauce instead? And if so, how much will I need, and will that also be instead of the cream? Many thanks 😊

  32. Hi there!! I love the Carmelita bars from Whole Foods but I just couldn’t bear to bring a store bought dessert to a party tonight. Oh the horror! So I made these last night and they turned out beautifully!! Like a total work of art. I used TJ Caramel Sauce…perfect ooey gooey splendor and super easy! I made two batches…one per recipe and one I added TJ sweetened shredded coconut. Whoa! I think the coconut takes it to another level. So good! One thing, and you forewarned, they are just a little too sweet for me personally. While they are totally delicious and full of flavor, a few bites is about all I can take. I also added Himalayan sea salt wherever I could to try and balance the sweetness. Because the chocolate and caramel sauce are inherently sweet on their own, just curious if you have any thoughts or suggestions of cutting out the sweetness in the oat/flour crumble mixture to balance it out?

  33. Do you think I could make these ahead of time and freeze?  I’m looking for a few things to make in advance for when we have company and I quick need something. 

    • Yes in theory you can freeze these, however part of the appeal is the really soft and gooey caramel action going on and upon freezing, not sure how that will work.

      Something like a quickbread or cookies (you can freeze the dough and just bake off a few as needed) are probably more freezer-friendly options than these. I have numerous recipes for both if you do a drop down search from the top scrollbar BROWSE RECIPES section of my site.

  34. Wow these look amazing! I can’t wait to try making them. 😃

  35. I didn’t scroll down through all the comments so maybe someone already said this, but I have been making these with Mrs Richards Butterscotch Caramel topping since 1992. You add 6 tablespoons of flour to the caramel topping to thicken it and prevent it from becoming too gooey. It’s a great time saver and everyone begs for the recipe. Thanks for sharing your great recipes!

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