I created the world’s gooey-est and stickiest bars when I made these. Or at the very least, the gooey-est bars I’ve ever made, and I’m not complaining. That’s what soap and water is for.
There are only good things that can come from melting butter, brown sugar, caramels, and cream.
Add lots of vanilla extract and chocolate for good measure.
When I received these caramel squares from Oh! Nuts, I had a few ideas for bars that would incorporate melted caramels.
I prefer making bars to cookies because bars are much faster and less fussy to make.
And I prefer these bars to anything I’ve eaten so far in 2012.
To say these are rich is an understatement. The melted caramels and cream, the butter, the chocolate seeping through each bite. Call Ina Garten and let the woman who cooks with a pound of butter like it’s a tablespoon know that these bars will give her a run for her
I really can’t convey how dense they are. Each one is like holding a little lead weight.
When I gave Scott the small 8-by-8-inch pan to hold, he thought I had lined it with heavy metal objects. I assured him that it wasn’t a stunt pan; just all the good stuff which is that heavy.
He also thought I put alcohol in them because they have so much depth of flavor. He thought it was another rum cake special, but no. I attribute the depth of flavor to the caramels.
I also added a copious amount of vanilla extract to them, allowing the vanilla flavor to not only stand up to, but really complement, the caramels. Too often vanilla gets lost, but not in these.
I assure you that you will want to get lost with one of these.
Make sure your gym membership is active or your running shoes are laced. You may want to get a little exercise after these.
Be forewarned: these are sticky and gooey and you should probably store them in refrigerator or freezer. You may also want to eat them with a fork.
Yes these are sweet, but they’re not as sweet as they are
fatty dense, rich, thick, heavy.
You will be able to feel the butter on your lips after you get done taking a bite and every once in awhile, that’s a-okay. Knowing that the high butter content of your latest dessert does double-duty for chapped lips is always a winning feeling.
If you’ve had a bad day, a PMS day, want to butter up (literally) your spouse before you ask them to take you to Bora Bora or impress friends ‘n fam at parties, make these.
Guests may need to use forks unless you pet names like Aunt Susie Sticky Fingers and Uncle Bobby Butter Fingers are acceptable among party-goers.
The oozing chocolate.
The drippy caramel cream sauce.
These will make you close your eyes, savor each bite, and the world will just.stop.while.you.chew.
Pin This Recipe
Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (Gluten-Free with Vegan option)
Rich, gooey, chocolaty, and loaded with caramel. If you like chocolaty, rich treats with lots of chewy texture, these bars are for you!
- 3/4 cups butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, optional*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 35 caramel squares (or 2 cups caramel sauce)
- 2/3 cup half-and-half or cream
- Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing for overhang (do not make this recipe unless you line your pan with foil) and spray the foil down very well with cooking spray.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.
- To the melted butter add the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, flour*, one teaspoon vanilla, and stir to combine.
- Pour just over half the oat-butter mixture (about 60%, eyeball it) into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, spread it evenly with a spatula, and bake for 9-10 minutes. The mixture will bubble up and foam considerably while baking. Watch it closely and the sides will show a bit of browning at about 9-10 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and let it rest and cool for 3 minutes, and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top in an even layer.
- While the mixture is baking, unwrap the caramels and place them in a medium-sized saucepan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Add the cream to the caramels and melt over medium-high heat, stirring nearly continuously to prevent scorching or boiling. It may take 5 minutes for caramels to completely melt.
- After mixture has melted, is smooth and combined, turn off the heat and add one teaspoon of vanilla, using caution because the vanilla will likely bubble up a bit, and stir to incorporate.
- Pour the melted creamy caramel mixture over the top of the oat mixture that has been topped with chocolate chips. It will be very soupy, this is fine.
- Take the remaining half (40%) of the oat-butter mixture and sprinkle it as evenly as possible over the top, using a spatula to gently spread the oats within the “caramel soup”.
- Place pan on top of a cookie sheet as a precaution for spill-over and bake for 14-16 minutes more, or until sides of the mixture are beginning to brown (Look closely in order to discern “browning edges” from the overall brown color of the caramel mixture when it’s baking; they’re very similar but distinct enough to differentiate). The mixture will be bubbling quite intensely while baking and watch it for signs of spilling over.
- Remove pan from the oven and allow it to rest and completely cool on the countertop before attempting to slice the bars (at least two hours) or you can expedite the process by placing the pan in the freezer or refrigerator until sufficiently cool enough to slice (but not frozen).
- Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or freezer, and freeze extras for up to 3 months. I stored these bars in the freezer because they were so gooey and they never froze solid (all that butter).
*I did not add flour to the bars as they are shown here and they are incredibly gooey and are hard to keep in a “neat” bar form, which only matters if you’re trying to take pictures of them or transport them. If you prefer something less gooey and sticky and more portable, add 1/2 cup flour. If you do not have caramel squares, you could use 2 cups of caramel sauce for ice cream and the thicker and richer, the better; however, I have not tested the recipe with caramel sauce.
Oats are a gluten free grain but use certified GF if necessary and take care the caramels used are GF.
To make the recipe vegan, use margarine in place of butter, cashew cream (1/4 cup cashews, soaked, and blended with 3/4 cup water) or another nut-based or vegan milk in place of the cream, and use vegan caramels.
If you’re a fan of caramel, I recommend:
Caramel Apple Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation)
Caramel Maple Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Raw Vegan GF Caramels (sandwich style with peanut butter in the middle)
Caramel Peanut Butter and Apricot Jelly Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation)
Do you like caramels?
I love them and all things caramel-flavored.
What’s one of the last really rich and dense desserts or other foods you’ve had?
Sometimes I want something airy and light like popcorn or angel food cake. Sometimes I want a lead balloon. Today was the later.
Thanks for the Babycakes Cupcake Maker and Cookbook Giveaway entries.
Wow! what great recipes…..not a bad one in the bunch…..I love everything you have posted on the reese muffins cookies and the caramel peanut butter bars…..don’t know which one I want to make first….and really shouldn’t be eaten any of them….but I am going to have too…..:) maybe just one a day……thank you for these great recipes….
I made these today! I wanted to add some nuts so I used almond meal in place of the flour. They are serious butter bombs, but so good!
Oh wow, interesting touch to add some A.M. in place of the flour! They were probably extra buttery b/c unlike grain-based traditional flour, nut-based flour like A.M. doesn’t really absorb any liquid so it just kind of pools and sits, but that’s not a bad thing :) Thanks for trying the recipe & LMK!
Oh wow, we are talking mega gooey, which in my family, is mega awesome. Pinning this! That is funny about holding lead weight:) I am SO curious as to how these will turn out! Do you think baking them longer would firm them up at all? (NOT that I want to, just curius) Digging in your archives is SO worth it, Averie!
Possibly – but they’re not meant to be firm. They’re meant to be…gooey!
I swear, whenever I need recipe inspiration, your site is filled with it! These sound phenomenal – question though, if I replace the caramel squares with caramel sauce, I’m assuming I’d leave out the heavy cream??
Glad I can help be the source of inspiration! :)
If using caramel sauce, yes, skip the cream. It was just added to help melt the caramels down. In retrospect, caramel sauce would have been wayyyyy easier. But 18 mos later, and hindsight is 20/20. I remember LOVING these bars though! LMK if you try them!
I don’t think I have drooled this much looking at a recipe in a while. These bars looks rich, decadent and over the top. So basically I need them in my life. These are added to the top of my to bake list. Absolutely gorgeous!
Other than unwrapping the caramels….I love this recipe!
Oh my! All your desserts looks so delicious. I want these in my belly ASAP!
I made these with my boyfriend last night, they were definitely dense and very delicious! We decided to go with the caramel sauce rather than the caramel candies…well, my advice is to use only 1.5 cups of caramel sauce because 2 cups seemed to almost be too much! Very yummy though :)
Good feedback. And I’m sure some brands of caramel sauce are runnier/spread more during baking than others. For instance, I know Smuckers is much runnier than say the TJ’s brand of caramel sauce, so it’s a bit variable. Bottom line is that glad you made them and enjoyed!
I know that anything that uses caramel and gooey in the title has to be good!!
The chocolate-caramel combination is always a winner, but these look especially delicious!!
I remember a dessert cake I made years ago that still holds the top spot for “most decadent and rich dessert I have ever made”; it had something like 2 whole bars of dark chocolate, chestnuts and tons of cream in it if I remember correctly. If you want I’ll dig out the recipe for you- it took a little bit of preparation, but it was so worth it!
PS: And I read this just before breakfast… porridge doesn’t sound quite as appealing now ;-)
Mmm, that sounds rich. I’m not a huge fan of nuts in my desserts (so the chestnuts wouldn’t be my fancy) but I do love dark choc and cream :)
Btw, the chestnuts had to be cooked, peeled and mashed if I remember correctly, so it was a smooth cake, not nutty bits in it…I think it was even called a ‘chocolate truffle cake’ or something like that, that sais it all really, haha ;-)
And next time I’ll fit everything into 1 comment; sorry :-)
Oops, it seems the part of my brain responsible for correct spelling is still asleep. Sorry!
Oh.My.Gosh. How is it possible that your bar recipes can get better each time you create one??! Bars are probably my all-time favorite dessert. Seriously. The gooey-er, chewier the better! I absolutely love caramel and chocolate and oats and butter. I mean, C’mon…who does NOT love those things all combined together? Do you think that person exists? :-) Will let you know when I make these…I will be the favorite lady of the day, no doubt! ;-)
Oh I think you will love these. Knowing your tastes, I think these will be right up your alley!
Wow! These bars look incredible! My kind of dessert.
thanks & enjoy!
Great looking ooey gooey bar! Your photos show such detail which always makes me want to try your recipes! I’m feeding my sourdough starter this week and will bake the bread over the weekend when I have more time. The starter is a little different–it has potato flakes in it so I’ll report back on the project.
Glad you appreciate the details. I like seeing the details on other people’s food and I try to convey it on mine and in my pics. Some foods are easier than others and some foods show TOO much detail, i.e. condensation on chocolate in the heat
It’s been a while since I’ve baked with caramel — better remedy that soon!! Everything looks way too drool-worthy :D
these look OUTSTANDING!! i love all of your caramel recipes. I haven’t baked with caramel recently. i can’t believe how gooey these bars look! your pictures are always SO very stunning!! :)
These look simply amazing, another fabulous dessert recipe! Caramel is awesomely addictive, probably a good thing I haven’t had it in awhile. The most rich dessert I’ve had recently was a raw chocolate cake that was solid nuts, dates, and cacao.
I do love caramels…in fact, for many years I was a self-proclaimed caramel disliker…not sure why, I had never really tried it! unfortunately for my teeth, I discovered my love for caramel in 2008 – in college, no doubt…along with finding my love for Ina…and let’s not let her in on this secret (your AWESOME recipe) for I think she’d be crushed…I feel like she lives in her Hamptons bubble and even the slightest wake-up call to reality for her would send her on a butter bender…and we couldn’t have her upset like that ;)
Lol at your Ina comments…Hamptons Bubble, you mean a $200 floral arrangement and $200 worth of cheese for you and your spouse for dinner on Tues nite isn’t normal? :)
Okay, I thought the chocolate caramel bars I make (http://sleepeybearsspot.blogspot.com/search/label/taste%20test?updated-max=2009-11-20T20:59:00-05:00&max-results=20&start=29&by-date=false) were gooey…but yours definitely earn the gooey crown. I am going to have to try these, to see what the general combination tastes like with less oats and flour. =)
Sorry, wrong link – http://sleepeybearsspot.blogspot.com/2008/11/ooey-gooey-deliciousness.html. =)
Wow they look pretty awesome.
These look so wonderfully gooey! I do love those little caramel squares – they are so rare to have. This is not helping me on my ‘get back on track’ day! :)
I haven’t eaten anything caramel flavored in a long time. I never know if there is gluten hidden in it, so I don’t seek it out often. Which is ridiculous because caramels are awesome! Although, thank you for reminding me about your raw caramels. Those are divine!
oh girl, let’s go to bora bora.
how did you know that is one of my favorite places?
you and I have this love of the sun eh?
Have you heard of Necker Island? Let’s go there too!
Ive heard of Necker Island and the closest I’ve been to the BVI is the USVI, St Thomas & St John and if you’ve been to Bora Bora, you can be my tour guide…how fun would THAT be?!! Omg :)
Those look insane. And I love your comment about Ina Garten…it seems like she and Paula Deen are competing to see whose cooking uses more butter! Clearly not necessary!
Too funny, I almost reference Paula Deen, too, in my little joke :)
Love caramel and these look fantastic!
Those cookie bars look insane! I think my mouth is watering over them!!! I haven’t had a decadent dessert in a while and I think its time!
You had me at caramel! I love this. Pinned-so I can make it and probably the whole pan by myself!
Thanks for pinning and I always drool over your stuff…and your photography! And could re-pin absolutely everything that comes out of your kitchen :)
Holy moly those look gooey!!!! Yum Averie, I could definitely go for a few now :)
You deserve it!
Ahhh I die when I come here. I come here knowing I can’t sink my teeth into any of these goodies quite yet when clearing my dang skin, but i can peek and pretend….for that, I love you!
Caramel is my FAV!
I’ve read everything from sugar is bad for your skin to it has no bearing on your skin…whatever the case, good luck getting to the bottom of it!
mmmm those look to die for! So gooey and yummy, great recipe!
OH….MY……I WANT!!!!! :)
all of your desserts look SO amazing! Does your family eat them all or are some donated (like to your husbands work like i do with extras!)? There are always so many recipes I want to try, but my belly only has so much room, haha!
Well this made a small 8×8 pan and like I mentioned here yesterday
I always try to cook in small batches for that reason….we don’t “need” it all. For the most part we do eat it all, but donate if there’s things piling up faster than we can eat it :)
Look. At. Those. OMG.
Those look amazing. Interesting that he thought there might be alcohol in them. Sounds like they are rich and decadent!
VERY rich & decadent :)
You had me at gooey. But then again, chocolate and caramel combined with gooey can be nothing but out of this world. These look amazing!
This is my kind of dessert hands down. Dense, rich, not tooooo sweet, heavy, decadent… LOVE it!
Oh, but I would love to have these stuck in between each and every one of my teeth. And under my nails. And possibly on my shirt.
You make me laugh :)
These look amazing – like the naughtiest version of a flapjack I’ve ever seen! And definitely very gooey. Chocolate and caramel is a killer combination – love this recipe. Your photos are gorgeous too btw :-)
Glad you like the recipe and photos!
What a darling name: Gooey Bars. It makes me smile.
These babies could be heaven and hell in a pan for me; heaven because I have an unrelenting sweet tooth and it doesn’t matter if it’s gooey or shaped like a lump, if there’s sugar, I want to be on it – and it could be hell because my boyfriend does NOT have the same passion for sweets and I’d likely eat the whole pan (eventually) myself. But, oh well, like you said, lace up your running shoes, right ;)
And it’s a small pan, 8 x 8. I try to keep batches small for that reason :)
This look so incredibly dangerous to have around!
Oooh these bars look incredible! So gooey! I bet they’d be great with pecans in them, too. Then they’d be like German chocolate cake!
Oh yeah, if you like pecans or nuts, they would be great in here…it could almost me like the bar for of a Turtle candy!
Is it wrong I just kind of envisioned myself doing a 2 finger poi method by dipping my fingers in there and not worrying about cutting them?
If it wasn’t for pictures, I would have done exactly as you describe :)
I love all things caramel and salted caramel has to be my very favorite.
The last set of pics on your blog has got to be some of my fave images you’ve ever done! You just keep growing and it’s beautiful to watch!
“There are only good things that can come from melting butter, brown sugar, caramels, and cream.” AMEN SISTER! That is the truth if I’ve ever heard it. And it’s at this part of recipes that I usually ‘sample’ so much of the melting goodness that it throws my whole recipe off.
You know, it’s not fair that you posted this when it is so early in the morning my time. Now instead of a nice sensible breakfast I’m going to go make and eat a batch of these!
And I love that you read this right before breakfast. I plow thru my google reader in the mornings and usually wake up to at least 33 posts about cookies, pies, fudge, etc that hit while I was sleeping :)
And I saw your brisket yesterday….you have come full circle and that’s awesome for you that you have embraced it.
I am at a loss for words…these look incredibly decadent and delicious!
I love anything with chocolate and caramel. Put some oats in there=perfection!
loss for words…LOL and seriously they are that kind of rich dessert when you eat one, too. You won’t be able to talk.
Those look like they would have multiple textures (like biting through the soft caramel and oats into a piece of firm chocolate), which is just how I like desserts. They look fabulous, and I could see these being a big hit as a dinner party dessert.
The vanilla flavour sounds great too – I love vanilla.
The vanilla is strong enough to really notice it, too. And textures, I am huge on them…I hate mushy stuff and this has so much going on, which is the way I like things.
Ok, wow. These look and sound incredible. Sometimes you just need something that is too heavy, too sweet, too sticky, and totally, completely perfect.
My teeth hurt just looking at the bars but I’d endure it for a bite or twelve. :)
I love the caramels in the little clear wrappers! Reminds me of grocery store bulk bins that my grandma and her sisters used to sample from, haha.
The crazy thing is they’re not even that sweet. Yes, they’re sweet…but they’re more like lead weights, i.e. fatty :)