Somehow or other I came upon the recipe for Carmelitas on the Lulu the Baker blog a couple of weeks ago. I look at a lot of recipes, but sometimes there's one that I must make immediately! Hop over there to check out the pictures, don't the Carmelitas look amazing? They look so good that I sent the recipe to my mom, and it turns out she's been making them since she was in high school in the late 1960s! Apparently Carmelitas won a Pillsbury Bake Off competition back then. How in the world I've made it to 28 years old without having a) eaten ones my mom made, and b) even having heard of them, is a complete mystery. That had to be remedied at once! I'm not a football fan at all, but figured the Super Bowl was a good excuse to make them.
I followed Lulu the Baker's recipe exactly, except doubled the recipe. My husband and I had pretty high hopes for the Carmelitas, and let me tell ya- they did not disappoint! So much gooey, creamy caramel. So much chocolate! Delicious oatmeal cookie base! They are truly divine. I sent my husband to a Super Bowl party with most of the Carmelitas, where they were promptly gobbled up.
Quick Note: I have included vanilla extract as an optional ingredient. The recipe I followed had no vanilla, but I feel it would be an excellent addition. Also, next time I'm going to try cutting the cream back to 1/2 cup. As amazing as the caramel is, I like my caramel to have a bit of a chewy quality and this did not. It was perfectly gooey and thick and wonderful, I'm just really curious about how the Carmelitas would taste with less cream in the caramel! Will update this post if/when I ever get around to making them that way. They're quite perfect as is though so I'm not sure how much I can improve on perfection.
1 1/2 C butter, melted
1 1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
2 C quick oats
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips
18 oz soft caramel candies (I used Werther's brand, the store was out of Kraft)
1 C heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Place the butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, oats, flour and baking soda into a medium mixing bowl and stir until combined. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake until the base is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and top evenly with chocolate chips.
Place caramel and cream into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until completely smooth. Pour evenly over cookie base. Evenly sprinkle the remaining cookie dough over the caramel and return the baking dish to the oven. Bake until the top is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Let bars cool completely (about 12 hours) before cutting, it takes quite a while for the caramel to cool down, for the cookie base to solidify properly, and for the flavors of the chocolate and caramel to meld nicely. You can speed up the process by sticking the pan in the refrigerator, just be sure to let it sit out for about half an hour before attempting to cut up the bars.
Yield: About 16 to 24 servings, depending on how small you cut the bars.