Carmelitas

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Chewy carmelita cookie bar, with a coconut oatmeal crust topped with chocolate chips and caramel sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I swear to you I tried to not make these. The last thing I wanted to make with my young friends (Reilly, Alden, and Piper) was something loaded with chocolate chips and caramel. But try as I might, when we got together to cook the other day, I got not a glimmer of interest for a potential kale recipe (“But girls, it tastes like bacon!).

It turns out that Reilly (13) had been hoping to make this carmelita recipe for the site for months. She had researched it, tasted versions made by her friends, and made sure we had all of the ingredients. She even suggested adding shredded coconut to the batter to make the carmelita bars less dry and more chewy.

The girls also vetoed the nuts, being of the age (I’m keeping fingers crossed that they will grow out of this) that they will meticulously pick out anything that resembles a nut from a baked good.

The verdict? Wow.

I swear to you I tried not to eat these.

But, I just couldn’t help myself.

Yum.

Be warned, these are pretty chewy, probably much chewier than what you may have found with other carmelita recipes. If you ever bake with a bakers edge pan this would be a good time to use it.

oatmeal-carmelita-bars-b.jpg
Reilly scooping out the caramel sauce for the carmelita bars.

Carmelitas Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 24 bars.

Most carmelita recipes I've found include some kind of nut, either walnuts or pecans. The kids opted not to put nuts in their version, but if you wanted to include them, add sprinkle 1/2 cup of chopped nuts over the crust after you remove the crust from the first bake in step 4. Then top with chocolate chips and caramel. We made our own caramel sauce from scratch but feel free to use a jarred sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (separated) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 1/3 cup (separated) quick oats
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup caramel sauce

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, then the melted butter, then the coconut.

3 Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray, or spread with butter. Pat the dough into an even layer at the bottom of the pan.

4 Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Cover with the caramel sauce. Spread out into an even layer. In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp of flour and 1/3 cup of oats. Sprinkle the flour oat mixture over the top of the caramel.

5 Put back in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.

6 Remove from oven and let cool first for 5 minutes. Cut into bar shapes. Then let cool an additional 20 to 30 minutes before serving. The bars will firm up a bit as they cool, though they should still be rather chewy.

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Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • Mom

    When Elise said she could not resist and ate these she is not lying – I watched her eat 4 in a row. Alden came home and asked who ate so many. A middle child who wants to assure she gets the equal amount to siblings.

    Busted! ~Elise

  • Vivian

    They look delish. Does it have to be quick oats? Can regular oats be used? Any chance you’ve tried it?

    I think regular oats probably need to cook a lot longer, which is why every recipe I’ve found uses quick oats. Not instant oats mind you, but quick oats. ~Elise

  • Nicole

    These sound good…except…do you think they’ll be just as tasty without the coconut? Or, is there a substitute I could use? I don’t eat coconut if I can avoid it. I think it has to do with the texture rather than the taste. I feel like I’m chewing packing straw.

    Just skip the coconut if you want. ~Elise

  • Lauren

    These look fantastic Elise. My father loves coconut so I plan on making him a batch, sprinkled with some chopped almonds or pecans, for father’s day. My fiance and I have been visiting your blog for awhile now and we always find your recipes well-written and tasty. Thank you!

  • Jen

    So, if you remove the coconut, would you recommend adding in something else? Does it add significant sweetness?

    I think there is sufficient sweetness with the chocolate chips and caramel. The coconut adds texture and helps make the result more chewy and moist. Most carmelita bars don’t use coconut though, so feel free to omit. ~Elise

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