Carmelita Bars

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!) and it turns out that Reilly (13) had been hoping to make this 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.

Carmelita Bars Recipe

  • 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.

37 Comments

  1. Heidi

    Wow those look fantastic! I’m going to bookmark this for a special occasion. And maybe I’ll half it because I know I wont be able to resist them!

  2. laura p

    Those look absolutely fantastic. I have to say, I have never much appreciated a nut (or a raisin—ew) anywhere near a baked good. I don’t like the crunchiness in contrast to the soft deliciousness of the cake/brownie/etc. I’m not sure I’ll ever grow out of that.

  3. Sharon R

    These will be great to serve at an upcoming luncheon I am attending. Tnank you for the reciepe.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. Midwestern Mary

    Awwww! I’m so glad you let them make these instead of a kale recipe, haha! Gooey chewey chocolatey, coconutty bars are salve for the soul sometimes…. I love nuts, and I’d add those, but letting kids be kids gains you points in heaven, I think.

  7. 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

  8. Ruth

    These really do look awesome!

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. Greg

    We don’t like coconut in our house. Is there something we could replace that with or just leave it out?

    You can try making them without the coconut but I think it’s important for the chewy texture of these carmelitas. ~Elise

  12. Audrey Ellen @ My Scene and Herd

    Those look crunchy and carmalized and deadly. wow!

  13. laura @ glutton for nourishment

    oh my, i love the look of these. time to stock up on butter!

  14. Mary

    Honestly, anything with caramel is a winner in my book – add chocolate and – well – they would be gone before they were out of the pan.
    Mary

  15. Jenn

    wonder how these would be with the fleur de sel caramel sauce you can get at Trader Joe’s (since I’m sometimes lazy & don’t want to make my own caramel)?

  16. Monica

    I recently made Carmelitas (a family favorite), but substituted whole wheat pastry flour for white flour and old fashioned rolled oats for quick oats. Tasted great–my family didn’t notice.

  17. Katrina

    Mmm so tasty looking! Love this recipe :)

  18. Monica

    Love, love, love these bars! I made them yesterday and everyone loves them (even my child that doesn’t like coconut!) They came together so quickly, even with making the caramel sauce. Yummy! Definitely going into my cookie/bar rotation. Thank you!!!

  19. Walter

    Please confirm. You are using a 9×13 pan for the quantities listed? I would think that would fit into a 9×9 pan. I have Googled and found recipes calling for 2 cups flour, 2 cups oatmeal and 1-1/2 cups brown sugar going into a 9×13 pan. I would think your thin layer in a 9×13 would burn.
    Also, any problems with using cashews and raisins along with the chocolate and coconut to make a thick middle layer?

    Yes, we definitely used a large 9×13 pan (I measured with a tape measure). Several of the recipes I found put a layer of the flour oatmeal batter on the bottom and then again on top, which may account for the increased measurements if that is the type of recipe you are comparing ours to. We put all of the dough/batter on the bottom and then just sprinkled the top with a few oats and flour mixed together. As for cashews and raisins, I don’t think there would be a problem. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  20. Kristyn Lambrecht

    I like Reilly’s idea of shredded coconut sans the nuts – I took a pan of these to house church, and I had people begging me for the recipe :) Thanks for sharing this. They were so easy to make!

  21. Amy Rollo

    Here’s a thought… I will have to try this… Instead of adding the 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, add 1/2 cup of very coarsely chopped pretzels. They add the nut crunch, but without the nuts. This bit of salt also blends nicely with the sweet ingredients.

  22. Donna

    I make these all the time but yours look way overbaked. They must be hard as a rock when they’re that brown.

    They’re are brown. They are not hard. They are quite chewy. ~Elise

  23. estherpalermo

    This looks so yummy!

    Thanks for posting.

  24. Amy @ A Little Nosh

    Oh my lord. Adding to my “must make” list.

  25. catie

    gosh these look so delicious! I’m definitely going to make them! Just to clarify, though, is it 3/4 cup of butter, then melted; or do I melt butter first and then measure 3/4 of a cup of liquid? (or is there a difference? I seem to recall “butter, melted” is different from “melted butter”). Thanks!

    It’s 3/4 cup of melted butter, but you could easily go either way. If you want, measure the 3/4 cup first and then melt. ~Elise

  26. Odelle

    Looking forward to trying these! I’m the adult! The addition of nuts is a must for me. One problem that I find is the amounts, I find trying to equate ‘Cups’ in to imperial measurements vary so much depending which comparison site is used amounts differ so much. Cups seems a far easier, speedier method, why can’t we use these in the U.K.? If it makes it easier is my motto! Any ideas where I can purchase a set of measuring cups please.
    Love your recipes & the stories behind them, you make reading ‘simply recipes’ a pleasure, thank you.
    Nutty Carmelita Bars here I come…..
    Odelle. (U.K.)

  27. Tracyellen1619

    I pull out my Carmelita recipe every time I need to bring a sure thing to a gathering. I’ve NEVER met anyone that didn’t adore them. I have always used jarred caramel sauce blended with a bit of flour, but I’ll have to try making my own when I’m feeling ambitious. Love the addition of coconut and while I love nuts, I think crushed pretzels like someone mentioned, well, that might put it even more over the top!!

  28. Gennefer

    Looks yummy. But I recently had a blood test done for food allergies. Wheat, Oatmeal, yeast and egg whites where the at the top of the list. Do you by any chance have time to test out a recipe that uses substitutes for these ingredients. It is so hard to sit and watch everyone else enjoy the yummy stuff.

    I recommend looking online for gluten-free recipes if you are interested in finding recipes without wheat. Here’s a list of some gluten-free blogs. ~Elise

  29. Sharon

    @Odelle in the UK…this is the set of measuring cups and spoons that I have. It has practically every possible measurement that you could ever need for “American” recipes. I bought it from Amazon, and checked today; it is available from Amazon.com.uk. I hope it could work for you, and solve your “conversion dilemmas!
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Progressive-GT-3520-International-19-Piece-Measuring/dp/B0014Y4X3G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306339883&sr=1-1

  30. Carolyn Friesz

    Another great recipe, I will be trying it for Memorial weekend – actually for an Open House for my youngest who is graduating from high school! I enjoy Simply Recipes so much – have shared it with my FB friends many times! Great seeing the picture of Reilly, my daughter was her nanny for a short time!

  31. Dara

    Oh Elise, you had to do it. It is going to be very difficult to resist making these. I love that Reilly put so much time and effort into thinking about and testing these bars. So, when is she starting her food blog?

  32. Walter

    I finally made this yesterday. Very modified. I suggest using non-stick aluminum foil in the pan. Forget the grease. It worked great! As for the recipe… I doubled the batter. I had something that looked like German Chocolate Cake Frosting. I let that sit for 15 minutes for the oatmeal to absorb the butter. I used 2-1/2 cups of this for the bottom layer. Baked for 12 minutes, then layered 1 cup of Hersheys Special Dark chips, 1/2 cup of broken Cashews, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of Fruit & Nut Trail Mix. I had a 11.5oz. jar of Caramel Sauce. Whole thing went over the layers. The balance of the batter, got spooned over the top in drops. Baked for 25 min. Cooled in the pan for an hour. Then removed the foil with the cookie. Pulled back the foil and cut into bars. My pan must be different from yours. I only managed 16 bars. :) My son tryed one bar, then kept walking thru the kitchen swipping more.
    I have a jar of hot fudge sauce sitting on the counter. Can’t wait to try this again.

  33. Walter

    P.S. I just remembered. How do you store these? Mine ended up in an airtight container in the fridge.

    Our carmelitas went so quickly, storage was not an issue. Airtight and in the fridge sounds like a good way to do it. ~Elise

  34. Walter

    Made a new batch yesterday. Same Dark Chocolate chips, a cup of the fruit & nut trailmix and this time, Strawberry Topping instead of Caramel Sauce. My son said it was better than the first one. The strawberry taste is a little bitter, fresh made. But it mellows overnight in the fridge. What can I come up with next?
    Oh. Forget the Cashews. Baking them, reduces their flavor. Couldn’t tell what I was eating.

  35. Eleni

    Made these this week. I would cut the butter down to 1/2 C. They were a bit on the greasy side for me. Also, don’t put them in the fridge or they get rock hard…I mean you could break a tooth. But the flavor was yummy. I still prefer the ones from whole foods though. Thanks for the recipe :)

  36. Olga

    I tried this one yesterday substituting coconut and chocolate for walnuts and lemon rind (added both to the dough)and it worked out just fine. Right now I’m wondering what would go well with hazelnuts :) Thanks for the recipe!

  37. Olga

    Hi, it’s me again. This time I tried it with honey caramelised shredded carrots, hazels and fresh ginger and it worked out great. I’ve been cooking both versions nonstop, and my friends keep bringing me nuts as ‘presents’ so that I never run out of ingredients ;)

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